GOVERNMENT will soon dispatch a team of security officers to evict illegal settlers in game reserves.
Minister of Tourism and Arts Jean Kapata said the decision is aimed at boosting animal populations that have dwindled as a result of people settling along the animal corridors.
Ms Kapata told Parliament in a ministerial statement yesterday that illegal settlements in protected areas must stop because it is inimical to the growth of the wildlife sub-sector.
The minister said settlement in these areas is prohibited under section 15 of the Zambia Wildlife Authority Act No.12 of 1998.
“It is saddening to note that our citizens have continued not only to encroach on protected wildlife areas, but have also depleted the available wildlife. As a consequence, some of these areas have become unattractive to both local and foreign direct investment.
“Mr Speaker, let me inform the House that the process of evicting illegal settlers from protected areas will continue in order to protect our national parks and game management areas,” she said.
Ms Kapata said the illegal settlements have caused serious destruction of wildlife habitat as evidenced from Sichifulo and Mumbwa East game management areas (GMAs).
She advised the affected communities to voluntarily vacate illegally occupied land in protected areas to avoid unnecessary inconveniencies.
Ms Kapata also warned that foreigners who have illegally settled in protected wildlife areas will be deported.
She said her ministry is targeting to evict communities from Lukusuzi National Park in Lundazi, Mweru Wantipa National Park in Kaputa, Lower Zambezi National Park in Chirundu and Lavushi Manda National Parks in Mpika including Blue Lagoon and Lochnivar National Parks in the Kafue Flats and Msoro-Lupande GMAs.
Ms Kapata also advised traditional leaders to desist from allocating land in protected areas for settlement.
She also advised chiefs to sensitise their subjects against settling in protected areas to avoid conflict with the law.
And acting Minister of Health Joseph Katema said Government has strengthened disease surveillance to prevent the further outbreak of konzo in Mongu district of Western Province.
Konzo disease was diagnosed in Lwatembo area of Mongu and 10 cases have been identified.
Konzo has been documented exclusively in rural African communities that rely on cassava as their staple food.