from SNIKE MZULAH in Siavonga, Zambia
SIAVONGA, (CAJ News) – THE future of some migratory bird species is under threat amid illegal wood poachers invading an important forest reserve in southern Zambia.
These defiant individuals have overrun the Mutolalanga Forest Reserve in the Siavonga district. Part of the area has been designated for game ranching.
The forest in the Bbendele area of Nanyanga ward is a breeding ground for bird species such as the African pitta, cuckoo, flycatcher, guinea fowl, snake eagle and the turaco.
Local traditional leader, Chief Chipepo, has called on authorities in Chirundu and Siavonga to move out the charcoal burners that are encroaching the forest.
Wood is a source of charcoal.
Chipepo said the charcoal burners had defied his directive to vacate, alleging that the chief had no authority to evict them.
“It’s sad that whenever we want to remove them (charcoal burners), they use politics and claim I have no power to remove them,” he said.
“The charcoal burners reaction is anarchy which is likely to cause breach of peace in the area,” the chief said.
“I would like the Department of Forestry in Chirundu and Siavonga as well as the Ministry of Lands t
o work with me, together with the security wings, to remove these people.”
Chipepo noted the presence of wood poachers was a threat to tourism as visitors would want to tour and view wildlife.
Geoffrey Jakopo, Siavonga District Commissioner (DC), said the government was determined to protect Mutolanganga from timber and charcoal burning.
He warned perpetrators of strict action.
“Action will be taken against charcoal burners under the Forest Act,” Jakopo said.
He said an operation against charcoal burning or indiscriminate cutting down of forest trees was underway to protect green cover.
Government has also decided to conserve trees that are more than 100 years-old and give them heritage status.
“Protecting the forests is imperative to counter growing effects of global warming and climate change,” Jakopo said.
The Ministry of Green Economy has initiated a programme in Siavonga, where 4 million trees will be planted by 2026.
The programme is implemented in all 12 wards of Siavonga.
Ths ‘Green Stimulus’ package is part of the government’s efforts to extend green cover in the Southern African country.
“It is the responsibility of every citizen to work for protection and promotion of forests and greenery by planting more and more trees. I expect a vigorous response in this respect,” Jakopo said.
Meanwhile, an invasion of another nature has gripped the local Bbendele village.
This after stray elephants suspected to have crossed the Zambezi River from southern neighbouring country Zimbabwe are raiding maize and sorghum fields.
For a week now, the jumbos are wreaking havoc, reportedly during the night.
The village head woman, Shasutwe Janisibela, called on the government to quickly intervene as loss of crops could exacerbate hunger.
Zambia has been experiencing shortages of the staple maize meal following a drought.
Jakopo said National Parks and Wildlife officers were in the affected areas to move the elephants.
Some elephants recently strayed to Chalokwa, Manyepa and Shabamba and destroyed some crops.
– CAJ News