Zambia is not satisfying tourism potential
ZAMBIA is not satisfying its enormous tourism potential, says US Ambassador to Zambia Daniel Foote. And Ambassador Foote says Africa is losing out through illegal poaching of elephants for ivory. He was speaking during a wildlife conservation walk dubbed “Ivory Belongs to Elephants” campaign on the need to protect elephants and other endangered wildlife species on Saturday.
In the company of Irish Ambassador Seamus O’Grady and acting Kenyan High Commissioner Jane Kario, Ambassador Foote said wildlife had potential to contribute towards job creation.
“There are a lot of benefits, [but] if we don’t conserve these animals, we will lose forests, water, and the environment…the tourism industry in Zambia has enormous potential but it is not satisfying that potential,” he said.
“And through safari and photographic tourism, Zambia would and should be the world leaders and if it is, it would boost not only jobs in tourism but in construction, in service, in healthcare. In every sector in the country it would create jobs. We are working closely with the Ministry of Tourism and Arts and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife. We continue to strengthen our partnership. My message is more to the people of Zambia to help us protect their wildlife and to the government. of the three branches to help us, provide us with resources needed to do the jobs,” he said.
Ambassador Foote said he was passionate about conservation and that Zambians must take it upon themselves to protect wildlife.
“I think Jim Nyamu’s walking across Africa to raise campaign is ideal for elephant conservation, it is a wonderful thing. I’m not 100 per cent sure but I believe with the statistics that every 90 seconds an elephant gets killed in Africa for ivory… And this is the African heritage and tourism has exceptional portion to create economic development and economic potential, jobs and prosperous future,” Ambassador Foote said.
“And as a result we are trying to raise awareness to protect that wonderful heritage and to make it valuable for our kids, our grand kids and everybody else. Hopefully it will be the Zambians that will take the lead, not the Kenyans or the Irish or the Americans. It is Zambia’s biggest strength, its wildlife and its wonderful nature attraction, so I am just here to raise awareness with everybody else.”
And Elephants Neighbours Centre executive director Nyamu, who is also the group leader of the seven member walkers, said the team would cover about 4,500 kilometres traversing through six countries that were elephant rangelands in seeking awareness on wildlife conservation.
“The reason we walk is to remind our fellow Africans that when our problems are shared, they can be addressed and they can be resolved. Solutions that have worked elsewhere can be replicated here. Lessons from here can help other Africans elsewhere. We have common issues related to wildlife in Africa. We hear about human-wildlife conflict, the encroachment of wildlife habitats through development, competition for space, encroachment on riparian land, poaching and mostly driven by human greed and poverty levels,” he said.
Nyamu urged the Zambian government to look at the feedback from communities instead of relying solely on boardroom strategies on the poaching of elephants.
“This walk aims to cautiously solicit the four countries namely Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa to move their elephant population to CITES in an attempt to stop domestic trade in ivory that has attracted ivory barons from China, Japan, and UK among other consumer markets and end poaching of elephants in Africa. Governments have the duty to address the issue of mitigating the animosity between communities and wildlife and one way of doing this is spending time with the communities and listening to their views,” said Nyamu.
The walk to protect the African Elephants from ivory traders started on July 14, 2018 by a team of seven Kenyans led by Nyamu who formed an organisation called Elephants Neighbours Centre in 2013 in Nairobi Kenya.
They passed through Tanzania, they are currently in Zambia and they will go to Botswana, Zimbabwe then end with South Africa.
In Lusaka, the walk started at Cosmopolitan Mall on Kafue Road and ended at the Department of National Parks and Wildlife in Chilanga.