At press time, The Hunting Report was in daily contact with Zambian officials, seeking more details on the financial problems cited by the president. It appears the problem came to the attention of the government when an undisclosed number of trophies in Lusaka, being readied for export, were found to have been taken with forged game licenses and Special Licenses. The latter cannot legally be used by international safari clients. The use of both types of licenses on international safaris defrauds the government of revenue.
The problems may run deeper than the use of illegal game licenses, too, if a January 26 speech before parliament by Tourism Minister, William Harrington, is any indication. Harrington told parliament it was strange indeed that hunting safari companies that had reported losses to the government in recent years were "still fighting to get concessions."
The disclosure of irregularities puts the hunting community in an awkward position, as our best arguments for hunting are rooted in the revenue it brings into government and into local communities. The entire concept of sustainable-use conservation relies on the flow of money into stakeholders' pockets. With that in mind, The Hunting Report has sent a letter to Harrington, expressing support for the government's efforts to get to the bottom of this matter quickly and get hunting reopened this year before poachers and commercial meat harvesters take advantage of the abandoned concessions.
A dangerous wrinkle in the current brouhaha is the possibility that US clients may be facing Lacey Act convictions if they allow trophies taken with illegal permits to be shipped. The important ingredient in a conviction is sure to........(continued)