An interesting exchange in Parliament over the scale of animal population and the financial difficulties associated with looking after the rising population. This is something Minister Namugala recently touched on. The government wants to downlist the size of the elephant population to "facilitate commercial trade in elephant product, which would earn the country foreign currency and create employment for Zambians" :
Animal Population in Game Management Areas and National Parks, Oral Answer (249), Edited Transcript, 24th February, 2010 :
Mr Kambwili (Roan) asked the Minister of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources what the population of the following types of animals in the Game Management Areas and National Parks of Zambia was: (i) elephants; (ii) lions; and (iii) leopards.
The Deputy Minister of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources (Mr Mwangala) : Madam Speaker, the estimated number of elephants is 26,382 based on the 2008 National Survey. The distribution of elephant population is as follows: Luangwa Valley (18,666); Kafue (3,348); Lower Zambezi (1,299); Others (3,069); and, Total (26,382). The actual number of lions in Zambia is not known, as there has been no national survey due to financial constraints. However, the current estimates derived from small samples show that the population of lions ranges from 2,501 to 4,649. The actual number of leopards in Zambia is not known, as there has been no national survey due to financial constraints. Therefore, the leopard population is described qualitatively, basing on postulation such as hunting statistics and observations made by wildlife law enforcement officers, tour operators and tourists. Leopards in Zambia is described as follows:(i) Lower Zambezi - abundant; (ii)Luangwa Valley and Kafue areas – common; and (iii) Nsumbu and North-Western - rare.
Mr L. J. Mulenga (Kwacha): Madam Speaker, having informed the House that the total population of elephants in the national parks is 26,382, I would like the hon. Deputy Minister to tell the nation the economic benefits derived from these animals.
Mr Mwangala: Madam Speaker, I have said, in my response, that financial constraint has been a problem.
The Minister of Home Affairs (Mr Mangani): Madam Speaker, there are several benefits. One of the benefits we derive from these animals is that licences to kill these animals are issued and the Government generates some revenue from this. I cannot give the figures, but there is a lot of revenue generated by the Government. Furthermore, we also have a lot of tourists coming into the country.
Mr Kambwili: Madam Speaker, the co-business of tourism is, actually, the assets which are animals. I would like to know how this Government intends to put tourism at the centre of its economic development if it cannot account for the number of animals in the national parks? Further, what is the effective method of counting animals in the national parks?
Mr Mangani: Madam Speaker, I do not think that it is only by counting animals that we can necessarily see the economic benefits. Of course, we have indicated the number of elephants, but we have also highlighted the problems that we are facing in terms of counting lions and leopards. The answer has indicated that if we had enough resources, we could have counted the animals because you cannot imagine going into the wild to count animals as there is the likelihood of meeting up with lions. That is the reason we would like to use some aeroplanes to make sure that we see these animals from a higher altitude as some of these animals hide, thereby this takes quite some time. We have an interest in ensuring that we know the number of animals in our parks, but we have had challenges as indicated by the hon. Deputy Minister in the answer.
Dr Katema (Chingola): Madam Speaker, I would like to find out from the hon. Minister why the Government allows safari hunting of leopards when it is not sure of the total number of these animals.
Mr Mangani: Madam Speaker, the answer has given some estimated figures and we give licenses in areas where we have these figures.
Mr Mwansa (Chifunabuli): Madam Speaker, I am wondering how some conservation measures are being undertaken by the Government when it is not sure what the number of lions and leopards is.
Mr Mangani: Madam Speaker, in my answer, I stated that we have estimates, but we do not have the actual figures like we have on the elephants. I would like to emphasise that we have estimates of numbers of these animals in all these game management areas.