Masebo To Arm Game Police, Declares ‘War’ On Poaching

MINISTER of Tourism and Arts Sylvia Masebo has declared ‘war’ on poachers as she announced the arming of wildlife police before the end of this year.

Ms. Masebo said this on Sunday when she commissioned the new Zebra uniform for ZAWA officers at Chunga Wildlife Training School in the Kafue National Park.
“We will get you fire-arms before the end of the year. ZAWA officers have been killed on a number of occasions by ruthless poachers in remote areas,” she said.

Ms Masebo, who donned the new ZAWA combat uniform said, “I am declaring war against poaching. ZAWA officers will deal sternly with wildlife crime.”
Ms Masebo added “We must give value to our animals just like we give value to humans. Wildlife is not just for eating. It’s a resource that could improve our country’s economy.”

Ms Masebo said the economic value of wildlife can only be realised if the natural resource is preserved and protected.
“The PF government is committed to developing tourism, and wildlife is a cornerstone of this sector,” she said.

And Ms Masebo said like Minister of Home Affairs Edgar Lungu, she does not want anyone to go to her office to lobby for special licences.
“And to my friends, please don’t come to my office to ask for special hunting licences. Those are for traditional leaders during ceremonies,” she said.

The jungle-green uniform which has been used by ZAWA officers since the 1940s has been replaced with the new zebra combat.

The commissioning of the new uniform was witnessed by, among others, Deputy Minister of Tourism and Arts David Phiri, Army Commander Paul Mihova, Zambia National Service Commandant Nathan Mulenga and Zambia Air Force deputy commander Muliokela Muliokela, including ZAWA Director General Edwin Matokwani.
Speaking earlier, Lieutenant General Mihova said Zambia has become a poaching hot spot.
Gen Mihova, who is also the chairperson for the Central Joint Operations Committee (a grouping of defence and security wings in the country) ,said poaching poses a threat to national security.

“You (ZAWA officers) are now comrades in uniform. Poachers pose a threat to national security because most of them belong to organised international syndicates,” he said.

The Army Commander said most terrorist groups are now turning to poaching to finance their activities.
ZAWA director general Edwin Matokwani said the commissioning of new uniforms for officers is in line with the PF’s promise to change the face of ZAWA.

“ZAWA will do its best to protect wildlife so that we can unlock the tourism potential,” he said.
Mr Matokwani said ZAWA will transform into a paramilitary organisation with the ability to match the prowess of poachers.

He also commended government for giving the authority K15 billion for its operations.
Today in Lusaka, a meeting to review hunting concessions given 10 years ago shall be convened at Sandy’s Creation and Ms Masebo will be the chief guest.