GREEN Party president Peter Sinkamba has expressed concern over the decision by Government to lift the ban on big cat hunting in the country.
Tourism and Arts Minister Jean Kapata last week announced the lifting of the ban on cat hunting in the country on account that it greatly affected the wildlife resource livelihoods of local authorities in game management Areas.
But Mr Sinkamba said in a statement in Kitwe yesterday that the decision by Government to lift the ban on hunting lions and leopards was wrong.
He said the ban was initiated when conservationists warned that a wildlife population, especially in the cat family, was facing a greater threat than at any time since the 1980s.
“We all know that the number of lions and other big cat species in Zambia’s major parks is depleted and limited due to poaching and other anthropogenic activities,” Mr Sinkamba said.
He said the total population of lions in the country as at 2013 was estimated to be between 2,500 and 4,700.
These, he said, were unreliable estimates since successive governments after UNIP, have not sustained a continuous wildlife census system.
He urged Government to reverse lifting of the ban and instead come up with other revenue generating schemes.
But the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) commended Government for lifting the ban which was enforced two years ago.
ZAWA public relations officer Sakabilo Kalembwe said the lifting of the ban on hunting of big cats will ensure a great improvement in Government revenue.
Kalembwe said ZAWA will make sure that hunting of cats was carried out according to statutory regulations.
Government lifted the ban on cat hunting on condition that the guidelines were grafted into a statutory instrument so that they become part of the wildlife law.
Ms Kapata explained that lion hunting should only resume in the 2016/2017 hunting season and not this year.
She, however, said leopard hunting could resume this year 2015/2016 but with very precautionary quotas.
The two-year hunting ban was among others, necessitated by the weak regulatory mechanisms, declining lion populations in some areas due to over-harvesting, hunting of underage lions and depletion of habitats for lion.
Other reasons were the increased lion deaths in human-lion conflicts and lack of solid statistics upon which to base quotas.
The leopard ban was effected due to lack of serious monitoring lapses by ZAWA, which had since been rectified.