Environmental crime: A threat to our future

by Natasha Kabanda

Media plays a significant role in global issues, from reporting on pandemics and their impacts to exposing the public to relevant messaging aimed at providing accountability through breaking down issues into simpler messaging and innovative projects aimed at addressing the problems.

WCP Zambia is a conservation organisation working with government, civil society, and NGOs to address wildlife and environmental crime; through these strategic partnerships, it implements several initiatives tailored to curb wildlife and environmental crime through behaviour change campaigns.

In 2023, WCP Zambia recognised the importance of the media in shaping public perspectives on global nature issues affecting our country. Through the Environmental Crime Journalism Fellowship, WCP is exposing young media professionals in Zambia with first-hand information on illegal wildlife and nature crimes impacting the protection of our natural resources. This will be achieved through background understanding of environmental and climate rights issues, access to first-hand information through interacting with major stakeholders in conservation, and media reporting training. The goal is to support the media industry with skills in reporting well-balanced stories expected to enhance the public understating of the so-called complex issues of conservation. Ultimately raising awareness around key issues surrounding natural resource management, challenges, and solutions.

In this first cohort, 10 journalists were selected out of 40 who successfully underwent a fair selection of interviews and proved their commitment to enhancing knowledge in bridging the gap on environmental issues using their unique storytelling influence.

In the last six months, the fellows took a trip to North Luangwa and explored environmental challenges experienced by the rural communities, among them including human-wildlife conflict and illegal land allocation. The fellows were also exposed to other hot issues in the sector through weekly dialogues which included topics on illegal mining in protected areas, climate change and the illegal trade in bush meat.

The rise of environmental crime poses a significant threat to Zambia’s natural heritage, economic development, and social well-being. Addressing environmental crime in Zambia requires a multifaceted approach that combines law enforcement, community engagement, policy reforms, international cooperation and not forgetting the media. By addressing the underlying drivers, strengthening enforcement mechanisms, and promoting sustainable practices, Zambia can safeguard its precious ecosystems and secure a more resilient future for generations to come.

Furthermore, promoting transparency, accountability, and good governance in media reporting are some of the important ethics of the media and the fellowship contributes to journalists upholding these values and securing an informed public without biases. While strengthening cooperation and collaboration among law enforcement agencies, conservation organizations, and government for effectively disrupting transnational criminal networks and addressing the root causes of environmental crime.


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