LUSAKA, May 10 - The Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have given Zambia US$7 million for the protection of endangered wildlife species in the country's game parks.
UNDP assistant resident representative in charge of environment, Winnie Musonda said at the end of Luapula Province tour that the money would be disbursed over six years for the Bangweulu ecosystem in Kasanka and Lubushi national parks.
The Bangweulu ecosystem is home for the Black Lechwe and endangered species such as the shoebill bird. The area is also the breeding ground for a rare species of birds called the wattled crane.
"The budget will be approved this month and the project should take off with the full involvement of the local people in June," Mrs Musonda said in an interview at Wasa Lodge in the Kasanka Game Park.
Mrs Musonda said the GEF would provide US$6 million and the UNDP US$1 million for the project on re-classification and effective management of Zambia's protected areas.
Kafinda area in the Kasanka Game Park in Serenje has been selected for piloting as a demonstration site for the project, which involves the local community as well as the private sector.
Environment ministry chief environmental management officer, Godwin Gondwe said Government was happy to work with the people of Kafinda and the Kasanka Trust in realising the project's goals.
Mr Gondwe said Government believed that with the involvement of local communities, vital natural resources would be sustained.
He said that the project on re-classification and sustainable management of Zambia's protected area systems got approval from the GEF in 2004.
Kasanka Trust Park manager, Edmund Farmer said his organisation had managed to increase the number of elephants from one in 1986 when the project started to between 15 and 100 now.
Mr Farmer said the Kasanka National Park had been increasing the amount of tourism revenue by about 40 per cent every year of which five per cent went to the local community in chief Chitambo's area.
He said the Kasanka Trust had so far spent about US$1 million in conservation work and infrastructure since the project started.