TRAVEL GAZETTE – The Zambian government has expressed concern with the decline of wildlife populations in southern Africa, a senior official said on Friday.
Ministry of Tourism and Arts Permanent Secretary Stephen Mwansa attributed the decline of wildlife populations in the region to wildlife crime.
The official, in remarks delivered at a regional judicial and prosecution workshop for wildlife crimes in Lusaka, the Zambian capital, said poaching, illegal wildlife trade and trafficking were the major causes of the waning of wildlife populations in the region.
According to him, illegal trade and trafficking in wildlife products such as game meat, skins, ivory and rhino horns and live animals have increased at alarming levels, adding that there was need for countries to cooperate to protect the wildlife.
“We need to put our heads together in fighting wildlife crime in the region,” he said, according to a statement released by the Ministry’s public relations department.
He has since called on governments in the region to put in place legal frameworks in order to protect wildlife from extinction, adding that crime syndicates have come sophisticated hence the need for concerted efforts to fight the vice.
According to the statement, between 2009 and 2013, more than 12, 000 elephants were poached in Africa at a poaching rate of 7.4 percent, more than the natural population growth rate.
The workshop has brought together legal experts from African countries and is aimed at achieving mutual understanding between the jurisdictions represented on strategies to strengthen prosecution and enhance international collaboration.