By Steve Chirombo, MANA
Minister of Environment, Tourism and Wildlife, Symon Vuwa Kaunda has urged African Parks which is managing some wildlife reserves in the country to ensure conflicts between animals and people surrounding such facilities are minimized.
Speaking during a familiarization tour he conducted at Majete Game Reserve and Wildlife on Wednesday, Kaunda said the ministry learnt from other parks that there are some conflicts between animals and human beings.
“This is where we have seen animals like elephants killing people specifically in areas like Nkhotakota,” he said. “So, it is quite necessary for us as government to come and engage the management plus discussing as to what the African Parks and Wildlife is doing to protect people.”
Kaunda said government throughout the deliberations wanted to have a better understanding as to why animals break away from the parks and threaten lives of communities.
He said the familiarization tour was also another way of learning some strategies from the management, issues of animals, human beings conflicts as well as on animals that feed on other animals.
“Let me also express it right here that our interaction, engagement with the African Parks and Wildlife has been a success. As government, we have noted a success story of wildlife management in the country. They took over Majete from a zero point but today we are seeing a different story,” Kaunda said.
Kaunda added that the African Parks is currently assisting the communities around by among others constructing schools, clinics as well as providing some income generating activities like production of honey.
“We have also learnt that they have increased the number of animals in the park. They brought in a lot of animal species like elephants, rhinos, lions, cheetahs, buffaloes and many others,” he said.
However, Kaunda asked management to put in place measures that will help prevent spread of coronavirus as well as reporting any suspected COVID-19 case, saying such areas attract tourists.
In his remarks, African Parks Malawi Representative, Samuel Kamoto hailed the minister’s visit, saying: “We presented to him how we began, progress and challenges we are facing.”
“We took over the park at zero but we have positively moved on through; bringing back the animals, developing the infrastructure as well as working on the community program because they are a key sector in terms of our activities,” said Kamoto.
Kamoto, however, bemoaned the COVID-19 pandemic, saying it has brought down figures of international visitors affecting its revenue collection in the process as currently it has collected about US$37,000 as compared to last year’s US$531,000.