Lusaka. April 22, 2015.
LUSAKA — United States Ambassador Eric Schultz visited Kafue National Park this week to highlight the important role of the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) in protecting Zambia’s national heritage, to better understand the operations of Zambia’s largest national park, and to make a call to action for the protection of Zambia’s wildlife.
Ambassador Schultz is passionate about promoting tourism and wildlife conservation. Zambia has the chance to benefit from wildlife tourism for generations to come, if conservation efforts are successful. The poaching crisis in southern Africa is a growing international concern. In Zambia it poses a threat to the country’s reputation as an ecotourism destination. Poachers are more organized and better equipped than ever, and this compels stakeholders to work together to combat wildlife poaching and trafficking crimes. During his April 20-21 visit to Kafue National Park, Ambassador Schultz saw firsthand the challenges faced by ZAWA and made a call for action for all interested stakeholders, stressing the importance of much-needed financial support and capacity building for ZAWA.
Ambassador Schultz also visited Game Management Areas (GMAs) surrounding Kafue National Park. He learned about community-based natural resource management models that improve rural livelihoods at the household level through sustainable management of natural resources such as forests and wildlife. He recognized that for wildlife protection and tourism to succeed, communities surrounding national parks and GMAs must benefit economically and encouraged the GRZ, ZAWA, and local partners to explore new models to ensure that communities are reengaged and benefiting.
U.S. Support for Zambian Wildlife Programs
The U.S. Government is involved in wildlife issues in Zambia in a number of ways. The U.S. Embassy Regional Security Office has coordinated training for ZAWA Officers at the U.S. International Law Enforcement Academies’ Wildlife Investigations Course, the Wildlife Poaching and Trafficking in Southern Africa Workshop in Botswana, and other courses.
Further, the United States Agency for International Development will provide $2 million in support of efforts to combat wildlife trafficking and improve joint wildlife management with ZAWA, their partners, traditional leaders, and communities over the next two years. This work will coordinate closely with the Zambian Wildlife Authority’s Intelligence and Investigations Unit and the North Luangwa National Park ecosystem and its surrounding communities.