Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Killing Zambia's Lions and Leopards for Fun

Somebody needs to direct Hon. Jean Kapata minister of tourism and arts to the Discovery and Animal Planet channels. According to the Daily Mail Newspaper last week, she just lifted the ban on the hunting of the cats in our national parks. This means that lions and leopards now have their days numbered. It is baffling how such a decision can be made. Does the minister have some information that the rest of the wildlife conservationists do not have, this might be a right time to share it.


The minister has stated that the reason for lifting the ban is because of lost profit during the ban that was enforced in 2013 by then minister of tourism and arts Slyvia Masebo. Hon. Kapata claims that it was due to weak regulation, so we must now presume that this weak regulation has been rectified but she did not tell us how. The minister further went on claim that the profits from the trophy hunting would bring profits to help with conservation and help the rural people with their livelihoods. Really. Once again the minister did not tell us how. Say we are to believe her argument that it would indeed bring in profits, how much profits are actually brought in and what benefits to the rural areas does it bring. Employing two or five tour guides does not warrant it to be called development.


The government is on an agenda to diversify the economy, but we should not do it at the expense of unsustainable means. This situation is a clear indication of short sightedness on the part of the minister. The numbers of the big cats all around Africa are diminishing and here we are fuelling people's hobbies of killing lions and leopards for the thrill of it. What do we get in exchange for supporting this hobby? According to the World Lions Day website, in 1975 the lion population stood at 250,000 and today it is between 25-30,000 on the continent of Africa. Lions are extinct in Mali, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Malawi. We might as well be adding Zambia to that list soon. The numbers have been dwindling by the year. In case the minister has forgotten, tourists come to see lions in Zambia, soon there will be a situation where they will be struggling to even find any lions, or leopards to see. She also did mention that she would allow the killing to reasonable numbers, now who is to determine what is reasonable in the first place. Is it 10, 100, or 1000. One person's definition of reasonable may be different from another person. If the other argument is that we have too many cats in our national parks why not export them instead of killing them. Hey, if someone can be championing the legalising of marijuana for export, we could at least consider getting into the export of lions and leopards.


Another issue worth considering is that what message are we sending to the local people who are constantly told, "No poaching". They are told not to kill the elephants and the rhinos. But what are they to make of it when they see someone coming from Europe and taking an aim at the lions and leopards. How do you explain to them that you cannot kill the animals, but people from outside Zambia can. And yet these are the local people who have the right to the land. This is also likely to defeat the efforts made towards protecting endangered species.


The decision made by the minister is one that should be reversed immediately. It is a shame and a disappointment in this time that we are failing to protect the resources that we have. Tourism has a significant potential for economic growth, but here we are wanting to kill whatever potential that exists. My great, great grand children should also have a chance to see the lions and leopards. If the minister believes that their too many in our parks, she should give them away to Zoos and other countries, I am sure they would gladly accept the offer. Just because some tour operators are complaining that they are losing business does not mean we should bow to their cries.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Accident Museum Next Tourist Attraction

Atase. Floyd Mayweather versus Manny Pacquiao 'Fight of the Century', my foot. Now that I have got that out of my chest, I can move on to more serious matters that are genuinely worthy of my time and deserve someone staying up all night for. Another tragic accident occurred this past week in Kalomo which claimed the lives of eight individuals, seven of whom were from the same family. It seems road traffic accidents have become our Achilles heel and the number of lives that are being lost is alarming. In order to address, this situation the government has decided to come up with a 'genius' idea, why not have an Accident Museum.


An Accident Museum, really government, seriously government, is that the best you can come up with. Ok, let us accept for a moment that this Accident Museum idea actually goes ahead just how exactly is it supposed to work.  Is it supposed to act like some tourist attraction where people go check out mangled up cars and how people died or lost a leg. I can just imagine this conversation.

Girlfriend: Honey what are we doing for Valentine's Day?

Boyfriend: Darling today is a special day, am taking you to the Accident Museum.

Anything that has to do with the fear factor hardly works. Look at countries that still have the death penalty for drug traffickers, people still risk it. At best the Accident Museum will just become an educational place for primary school pupils to have a day out. And by the time these pupils reach driving eligibility age they would have forgotten about the museum itself. Quite frankly, I would not find myself going to the museum. I do not want to go and see accident crashes, mashed up cars and being told the gory details of how each accident happened.

The gravity of this problem is really a national dilemma that desperately needs a solution. The challenge that government and the Road, Traffic, Safety Agency (RTSA) are faced with are people's attitudes on the road. I have friends who drive their cars, take their speedometers to 200Km/hr and then even have the audacity to get a picture on their phone. Foolish. Or those who boast that they travelled between Lusaka and Ndola in slightly over 2 hours as if it is an accomplishment.  Let us even consider those who after watching Fast and Furious 7 think their cars are some indestructible machines. Changing such type of mindsets is the question that we have to answer.


The sad part about this mess is that there many good drivers in Zambia but all it takes is one reckless driver to try and overtake at a curve and that decision ruins the lives of families forever. From the Accident Museum, what will be next perhaps putting humps on every high ways. I personally think one short term measure can be that passengers in cars, buses and any other public transport need to take more responsibility. If a driver is over speeding they need to demand that they reduce their speed. I do not know how many people know the RTSA hotline and actually use it to report reckless driving and what actually happens when someone reports. RTSA may also consider placing camera's on high ways too.

The Accident Museum at best will just be there to take up space, but I hardly doubt that it will do anything in stopping the number of road traffic accidents in this country. I also think that this is not just the issue of government or even RTSA and this issue of commanding RTSA to do something by government officials is only saving face. It is a complex issue that  people have found everything and everybody around them to blame for the cause but themselves. The responsibility for preventing and reducing road traffic accidents lies with all of us.

What do you think can be done about the road traffic accident situation in Zambia?