By SANDRA MACHIMA
RURAL communities are likely to lose about US$5 miillion from safari hunting revenue in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, says Zambia Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) Forum chairperson Rogers Lubilo.
Dr Lubilo said Covid-19 has already started to impact negatively on the wildlife sector in Zambia.
He said the restricted movement of people, limitations in gathering had made it difficult to fulfil some of the requirements to service the sector adequately.
Dr Lubilo said rural communities game management areas relied on tourism both consumptive and non-consumptive uses for their livelihoods. “We see a negative and hostile tourism environment as trophy hunting and tourism is major source of income and jobs for rural people.We expect to have no safari hunting this year if the corona pandemic is not contained on time.
“It is expected that if Covid-19 continues, the rural communities are likely to lose almost US$5 m from safari hunting revenues in 2020.
The loss, he said, would mean no income for conservation and local livelihoods and in the process breeding would increase illegal harvest of wildlife resources.
He said most clients who come to hunt or come as tourists were from Europe, USA and South Africa and that those were countries badly hit with the covid19 hence restricting travels among others.
Dr Lusubilo said the Forum and other stakeholders such as the National Community Resource Association had engaged with the private sector- in the tourism sector especially Safari Hunters Association of Zambia and Government to come up with measures that would ensure that wildlife conservation was maintained to secure the livelihoods of the local people.
“We are also engaging with international cooperating partners to consider providing an emergency conservation relief fund to support conservation for the benefit of the local livelihoods. Dr Lusubilo thanked Government for having cleared all the outstanding arrears in the range of K19.8million owed to communities.
This, he stated would assist in paying salaries for the community scouts and also completing some ongoing social projects in the communities.
He appealed to the government to also set up a wildlife and livelihood conservation fund to support conservation efforts and ensure that the local wildlife economy did not crumble amid Covid-19.
By SANDRA MACHIMA