CHIEF Lundu of Luangwa district has appealed to the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) to immediately terminate the contract awarded to a South African company to cull about 2,000 hippos in the Luangwa National Park.
The traditional leader told the Daily Nation yesterday that the move to cull the beasts was counter-productive to the tourism sector and would rob Zambians of revenue as most of the meat from such an exercise would be transported to South Africa.
He said he did not understand how the department would decide to sell such a huge number of Government trophy to a foreign company when there were Zambians who could have been awarded the contract.
Chief Lundu said the move by the department to suspend the contract was welcome but that there was need to terminate the contract in order to preserve the animals which added value to tourist attractions in the park.
He said if the department wanted to control the number of the hippos in the park, the only logical thing to do was to advertise to Zambians so that they could participate in the culling of the animals as that was a sure way of empowering them as the money would remain in the country after the exercise.
Chief Lundu said the number of hippos that were to be slaughtered were too many to ignore and was a direct assault on wildlife conservation efforts in the country and an affront to tourism, a sector which could contribute to Government’s diversification programmes as it could be one of the pillars of enhancing foreign exchange.
“I learnt of the culling of hippos in our national park a little bit late and I must confess I was annoyed because that was not made in the best interest of Zambians. How can you give away about 2,000 hippos to a foreign company from a national park? This is not ok. If they wanted to regulate the population of hippos in Luangwa National Park they should have awarded that contract to Zambians to empower them.
“This is the problem that we have where there is lack of consultation. The department should have consulted. They should have even consulted us traditional leaders because we are the custodians of land. It is too late to control the damage caused but my advice to them is that they should not just suspend the exercise but terminate the contract completely,” Chief Lundu said.