ZAMBIA Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) acting director general Kampamba Kombe has submitted to the parliamentary committee on agriculture that the law be amended to permit wildlife officers to kill poachers as game parks are like “war zones.”
Mr Kombe stated that ZAWA has on several occasions requested that wildlife officers should be authorised to shoot back at armed poachers but their request has always been turned down.
“We have been told that the right to kill by our officers will encourage them to be trigger happy. But we have stated time and again that we have lost quite a number of officers out there,” Mr Kombe submitted.
His submission comes in the wake of concerns by Mpongwe member of Parliament Gabriel Namulambe who said most wildlife officers have been incarcerated for executing their duties.
“I take it that a poacher can kill the officer. Police officers on the hand – the Zambian Police officers – have the right to kill a thief who has a weapon.
“Why don’t you seek to have the Act grant rights to these wildlife officers to kill those found wanting because their lives are at stake?” Mr Namulambe said.
He said wildlife officers end up being incarcerated if they shoot a poacher.
“Instead of protecting the animal, wildlife officers prefer running away from the poacher than go to jail,” Mr Namulambe said.
Mr Kombe said wildlife officers are scared to shoot poachers, because the moment they do so, they are arrested.
“What we are saying is that, this particular provision is very injurious to our officers. Our officers are operating with fear, yet they are in a war zone.”