Here, in a nutshell, is the situation. Zambia has allowed a crippling political paralysis to set in at a critical point in the evolution of its policies toward wildlife. The most obvious result has been a closure of international safari hunting, but the effects of the paralysis run much deeper. For one thing, Zambia currently has no game department at all, which means no one is authorized to send game guards into the field. Worse still, GMAs (those buffer areas around the national parks that usually provide hunting opportunity) are unallocated, which means there will be no hunting operators in the field this season either. With the rains in Zambia about to stop, everyone is braced for a catastrophic upsurge in poaching. Already, during my visit last month, there was anecdotal evidence that the price of bush meat in local markets was falling due to oversupply.
So, how did things come to such a pass in Zambia? The roots of the paralysis date back to 1998, when parliament authorized the creation of a new quasi-private, financially self-sustaining entity called ZAWA (Zambia Wildlife Authority) to manage the nation's wildlife resources. The driving force behind the creation of ZAWA was the desire to de-politicize wildlife decisions. To that end, control of the agency was placed in the hands of a mostly private board that would oversee hunting area allocations and make other important decisions, including the naming of a powerful Director General.
On paper, the plan was a winner. The European Union stepped in with interim funding, and plans were promptly laid to dismantle the old National Parks and Wildlife Service. The internationally respected accounting Firm, Deloitte and Touche, was hired to........(continued)