MORE than 3,000 people have encroached on Lukusuzi National Park in Lundazi Eastern Province, acting Lundazi District Commissioner Mukule Banda has revealed.
The residents, who are mainly from Chiefs Zumwanda, Mwase, Chikomeni, Kapichila as well as Chieftainess Mwasemphangwe have been living and hunting in the remote national park.
Mr Banda said most of the squatters started settling on the land in the early 2000s and the number had continued to swell.
There was initially no proper statistics until the recent census that has revealed that more than 3,000 people have settled inside the national park.
Mr Banda said in an interview yesterday that the continued stay of the residents could deplete wildlife because they were hunting in the restricted area.
“According to Census conducted so far, most of the people who have illegally settled in the National Park are from Lundazi District, and we are afraid that they may deplete the animals,” he said.
He explained that the illegal settlers were people who have villages where they come from, but decided to settle in the national park.
Mr Banda said the Government would this year evict the illegal settlers in an effort to preserve the wildlife.
The Ministry of Tourism and Arts in conjunction with the Provincial Joint Operations Committee recently visited the illegal settlers to educate them on the need to leave the national park.
In December last year, Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) officers burnt some grass thatched houses belonging to some squatters in the same park.
Times of Zambia