LUSAKA, Apr. 28 - Operations of the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) have been severely hampered by lack of money following the withdrawal of European Union (EU) assistance amounting to 10 million euros (K48 billion).
ZAWA director general Hapenga Kabeta told the parliamentary committee on energy yesterday that the EU abruptly withdrew support from the wildlife sector after Government diverted money meant for the authority to other areas.
When pressed to explain further, Tourism director Justina Wake said at the time the EU were to release money to ZAWA, then minister of Finance Emmanuel Kasonde opted to buy grain for relief to mitigate the drought, forcing the EU to pull out.
Mr Kabeta said ZAWA was facing operational difficulties and the current management's problem was to keep the authority afloat.
He said the authority's total budgetary requirement was K60 billion but only received K4 billion through Government subversions. He said currently ZAWA was surviving on proceeds from eco-tourism and safari hunting.
He lamented that the bulk of the licences comprised national hunting which did not garner sufficient resources and only served to depress prices of Government trophy.
"Right now, we have suspended hunting of most sought-after buffaloes and banned hunting in Lunga and Luswishi national parks because the animal is under pressure," he said.
He said ZAWA was instead, promoting trophy hunting of elephants to ease pressure on the buffalo.
And when chairman of the committee, Mwinilunga West Member of Parliament Richard Kapita (UPND) asked why ZAWA management was top-heavy, Mr Kabeta admitted that six directors were too many for an institution struggling to survive.
He said the structure proposed by Deloitte and Touche would be reviewed next week with a view to restructuring the organisation.
He said ZAWA was working towards removing settlers who had encroached on Isangano, Nsumbu, Kafinda, Mumbwa and Blue Lagoon in Kafue National Park.
And Environmental Council of Zambia (ECZ) director Edward Zulu has warned that Luanshya town could face the risk of flooding following the closure of Luanshya mine.
He, said however, an environment programme had been put in place to ensure that there would not be any negative effects.
Mr Zulu said the council was battling scrap metal dealers scavenging lead particles from the closed mine and creating conditions that posed a health hazard.