Around the world, wildlife species are dwindling at an alarming rate. This is a result of destructive human activities that kill wildlife, like poaching, and those that destroy their habitats, like human encroachment on wildlife sanctuaries. The good news is you can do something about it.
But before we embark on saving the world, let us start with Zambia. As the adage goes, “charity begins at home.” Here are four things you can do to help Zambia’s wildlife.
Visit a national park. Strange as it may sound, you can help conserve Zambia’s wildlife by visiting any of the country’s 21 national parks. Some of these, like the world-renowned Kafue, Liuwa and South Luangwa national parks, boast an abundance of wildlife and spectacular landscapes. Zambia’s conservation sector is inextricably linked with tourism as many tourism operators donate some of their proceeds to conservation activities that reduce poaching, making tourism viable. In some places, a percentage of the bedspace fee is given to conservation organizations. In turn, conservation organizations help to preserve endangered animals and their habitats by working with local communities to conduct anti-poaching and de-snaring patrols and by educating local communities about the importance of wildlife conservation.
Next time a have a chance, organize a family and friends’ trip to explore a national park of your choice. While you connect with nature and interact with the natural environment, you will also be helping to protect Zambia’s wildlife from poachers and other wildlife criminals. And supporting local tourism, you will also be helping fellow Zambians who work in the industry to have sustainable jobs. Many lodges and hotels even offer local rates.
Say No to illegal bushmeat. One of the more common illegal wildlife products that many of us will encounter or have encountered at some point is illegal bushmeat. This popular meal is pushing species into extinction and is now considered the biggest threat to Zambia’s wildlife. Bushmeat is primarily caught using wire snares, which are silent and indiscriminate killers that result in significant bycatch. While snares are meant to capture animals that people eat, they often unintentionally capture vulnerable carnivore species such as leopards, lions, and wild dogs.
If you can’t do without bushmeat, we recommend you switch to legal game meat, which is produced by Zambian game farmers. This legal alternative is sustainable as the trade is monitored by the Department of National Parks and wildlife to ensure the meat is legally sourced and safe for human consumption. When you buy legal game meat, you are not only benefiting Zambia’s wildlife, but you will also be helping Zambians who work in the legal game meat industry to have sustainable livelihoods.
Report wildlife crime. Another way you can help conserve wildlife is by reporting suspicious activities involving wildlife to the Department of National Parks and Wildlife or other law enforcement agencies nearest to you. The illegal trade in wildlife products robs Zambia of its precious wildlife resources and only enriches a handful of foreign organized criminal networks. Even the local guys who are engaged in poaching only get a ridiculously small slice of the overall illicit profit. Also, wildlife belongs to us all, so poachers are not just stealing from government, they are actually stealing from every Zambian. So the next time you witness a suspected wildlife crime, report it promptly, you will help keep Zambia’s wildlife out of the hands of these greedy criminals.
Keep the environment healthy and intact. There are many ways in which one can protect their immediate environment. You can start with using less plastic by carrying your own shopping bag when you go shopping and getting a reusable water bottle instead of using disposable mineral water bottles. When you can, try to buy products that are environmentally sustainable.
The list of things you can do to help conserve wildlife is likely endless, but the four suggestions mentioned above are a great starting point. After all, environmental conservation and sustainable utilization of natural resources is the responsibility of all citizens.