Sunday, August 03, 2008

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Machine-gun wielding elephant poaching gang invades Zambian chiefdom…

In an all to common occurrence, a large gang of poachers, obviously forewarned, have taken advantage of the withdrawal for training of eight out of twelve Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) and village scouts from the Nyalugwe chiefdom in Zambia’s southern Luangwa Valley, to poach elephant, buffalo and hippo. Ominously, one of a number of camouflaged men carried a light machine gun and a belt of ammunition across his shoulders. Are rogue elements of the army involved here?

On 13 October, a Nyalugwe villager, Yesai Lungu, phoned Peter Nyalugwe to report that three elephant had been killed, one falling dead in the Chilinga reserve, the other on the privately owned Piamanzi ranch, the other in the West Petauke hunting block – the latter’s tusks being removed by the poachers. Villagers report widespread killing of elephant with only a few of the carcasses being found.

On 18 October, Peter Nyalugwe visited his country, interviewed a fisherman, Langizulu, who reported coming on the machine-gun toting gang of poachers – none of whom he recognized, while he was a kilometer or so from the carcass of a bull elephant busily being stripped by villagers under the supervision of Chief Nyalugwe. The poachers were obviously wary of trying to recover the ivory while the chief was there. In the Chilinga reserve, Peter came on a patrol of ZAWA, which included the notorious Joseph Mbo, whom I had caught hunting earlier this year and who has merely been transferred for his many sins from his former camp, Kalansha, to Nyimba. Present also were Frank Mwaza, Chitambo, and Perry Daka. They had been sent by the regional headquarters at Mfuwe - from their base at Nyimba, as a result of a report Peter had sent through to me, and which I had forwarded. They stayed one week and left; another patrol from Mfuwe itself reportedly patrolled for a period in the Nyalugwe portion of the West Petauke hunting block. Of course, these patrols rarely stay for longer than a week, so the area remains protected by one ZAWA officer at Kasolo camp, one village scout and one ZAWA officer at Mulilanama camp, and in the remaining camp called Fundu, one ZAWA officer and 2 village scouts. What this means is that the area has been left to the poachers for a period of three months while eight of the twelve ‘protectors’ are given a refresher course many miles away. As this is a Norwegian Aid (NORAD) supported project, one wonders at the thinking.

And where, in the absence of ownership rights to wildlife being transferred to the community under a chiefdom trust arrangement, is all this to end? There is just not enough money coming in from hunting concessions to protect wildlife, even were it not shared with ZAWA and the community. Our Luembe Conservancy Trust in the chiefdom north of Nyalugwe, rather than receiving the support of ZAWA and the current UNDP/GEF ’Reclassification of Protected Areas Project’ is left to its own devices, the hope being that it will simply wither and die away, for we are viewed as being people inciting villagers against the Government. Although an assessment of the NORAD project: ‘Focus on environment in NORAD and decentralised management of natural resources in rural development - a project case from Zambia” stated: “The most exiting finding from a political science point of view was the role of the community-programme in empowering the local people and the democratic effects this has.”

It seems that if you are a donor project going about community empowerment it is fine, but if you are an investor/advocacy conglomerate, you are considered to be inciting the community against Government, even a threat to state security.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Elephant anarchy descends on Nyalugwe chiefdom

Peter Nyalugwe of the Nyalugwe Chiefdom in eastern Zambia reports as follows:

"The incident of elephants killing last week on unknown date but this month of October 2007. A group of 45 poachers invaded the Nyalugwe hunting block and open area. A report reached me that three elephants were shot from afar in the open area and died near the Chilinga villages where they were found dead

The community rushed to skin out the meat where the three carcasses were. While they were skinning a mob of poachers came and asked about the village scout, Abiya Daka, his whereabouts. Instead the one they were talking to was the same scout. When they left one of the poachers knew him and came back to him but they found him gone into hiding. Abiya Daka was left out for the Nyamaluma training course. The rest of the village scouts are at Nyamaluma in Mfuwe for training.

Meanwhile all the villagers have meat in their homes. The cause of this trouble of poaching is due to hiked hunting licenses and the absence of the village scouts who were taken away for training. The same mob is planning to burn the Kasolo Wildlife Camp which is 5 km away from the Chief's palace.

However investigations must take place immediately and about the ivories we don't know the one who got them.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Zambia Wildlife Official pays labourers with ele meat...

This documents is signed by 27 villagers who worked for the Luembe based Wildlife Police Officer cum poacher and thief, Benson Mwale, in exchange for the elephant meat he had poached. He, and other fellow ZAWA poachers, have not been suspended, let alone prosecuted.

15 February 2008
Lakwisha says that Zambians who live on less than a dollar a day need to eat elephant meat, therefore the end justifies the means i.e. killing elephant. So, to the bushfolk's everyday burden of survival with very slender support services (primary health-care, basic education, clean water...) must be added that of being a criminal. But these are Zambian civil servants who are poaching, not villagers; and applications by the community for harvesting rights of game such as impala - despite it being their right under the Wildlife Act of 1998, have been refused. Where to now Lakwisha?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Nyalugwe village scout found with tusks...

On 15 August 07, a Nyalugwe Community Resource Board village scout, Davy Zulu, paid for and controlled by the Zambia Wildlife Authority, but from hunting concession fee money obtained from Mbeza Safaris, was found in possession of a pair of tusks. He is shortly to appear in the Nyimba Magistrate's Court. Japha Mbewe, the Mbeza and Luembe Trust legal officer, is investigating.

On 22 August 2006, Zulu and his wife appeared in the Magistrates Court in Nyimba and were each sentenced to five years in prison. She apparently has a young child. Village scouts and their families are local people; that they are involved in such activities is the direct responsibility of their Zambia Wildlife Police Officer (ZAWA WPO) supervisors, one of whom is always placed in a village scout encampment. None of them, though most are involved in the poaching racket being run by the ZAWA office in Nyimba, has so far been brought to court, let alone sentenced. And word has it that the organizer of much of this, the notorious Goodson Chibeka - officer in charge at Nyimba, is now merely being transferred to Mfuwe. A disgrace, but very much a local tradition when remembering that some years ago, the then officer in charge was found with a lot of ivory and merely transferred to the provincial ZAWA HQ at Mfuwe.

A follow up on the Nyalugwe poaching syndicate...

24 August, 07
Peter Nyalugwe
Mbeza Safaris Liaison Officer

Ten days ago a report was made to the MD of Mbeza Safaris, Mr Ian Manning, by the owners of the game ranch in Nyalugwe on the Nyimba/Luangwa rivers, that across the river, in the West Petauke Hunting Block, many rounds were fired. They said that law and order had broken down. Mr Manning said, that he had paid out money for anti-poaching (paying $21, 000 for this in 2005), but that it was the 12 village scouts and three ZAWA Wildlife Police Officers – who his company paid concession fees to support, which were directed by Wildlife Act of 1998 to protect the wildlife resource so that safari hunting could be done.

Mr Manning then instructed me to go to Nyalugwe and to report on the situation.

19 August, 07
I met the Community Resource Board (CRB) Chairperson for Nyalugwe and he briefed me how the CRB is being disorganized. If he calls a meetings the members do not gather as they were elected due to financial and food problems for them to attend.
a) I asked him what’s the way forward? He said he suspected that my absence as Secretary of the CRB left a gap for I worked with the previous CRB nicely and able to submit returns to South Luangwa Management Unit (SLAMU) and Chilanga (ZAWA HQ) head office respectively
b) No bank statement has been received from the CRB account in Petauke.
c) The analysis book is with the Community Liaison Officer (Nkhoma) in Nyimba for auditing
d) The Nyalugwe village scouts have not been paid since the last payment in march 2007
e) The community also complains over the hiked prices of the citizens game license hunting fees for 2007 which they say will now encourage them to poach. A poor villager can he afford to buy the animals. We doubt.

20 August, 07
Met the camp-in-charge, Whyson Daka. I reported about the many shots which had been heard in the hunting block. Daka mentioned that the shootings were the combined force of the ZAWA Wildlife Police Officers (WPOs) to chase away the elephants from crop raiding in the GMA residents fields. I asked him further about who were patrolling and he had no answer. For ammunitions I asked him how are issued at the camp. He said there is a field data form which they fill in when going out for patrols and where they have used them on what purpose and finally for the returns space. These ammunitions are being kept by the camp-in-charge. This was the answer given by the camp-in-charge. Ths same Daka left for Nyimba to hand over an old man called Zuwua Ibale from Fundo village, caught with snares and game meat on the Lunsefwa river. He had been beaten and had a very swollen eye.

21 August, 07
Met one of the village scouts at Kasolo camp and told me about a suspect who was caught with an illegal muzzle loader at Nyalugwe village hanging in his verandah. The man is Yesaya Lungu who appeared in court last Friday 17, 2007. I haven’t heard the ruling. ZAWA also within the same week on 19 August, caught three men selling game meat on the Great East road at Saulo village.

The quota setting meeting on 26 July 07 heard complaints that the monitoring officers (village scouts) sent by ZAWA to check on hunters coming to hunt in Nyalugwe from other parts of Zambia (urban dwellers) were corrupting these same officers – and shooting more animals than on license. As most village scouts cannot read or write they cannot do the job very well.

The negative point of it is they have the immunity on the ZAWA Wildlife Act No 12 of 1998 section 118 part xiii which whatever thy can practice will be protected. I don’t know what proper evidence can we take.

Peter Nyalugwe
24 August, 07.

Clearly Daka was aware that ZAWA personnel and CRB scouts were engaged in their normal activity of killing animals and preparing it for collection by the Nyimba ZAWA office. Why did he not go and investigate the presence of such a large gang in the area? Because they were his own staff. And once again village scouts are unpaid and therefore help themselves under the eager ZAWA meat syndicate. And what of the rural poor? Well they now have increased hunting license fees, are refused game harvesting rights as is allowed under the Wildlife Act of 1998, are assaulted and hauled off to a prison unfit for decent people who simply are trying to survive, and have to stand by and watch while the Government officials kill the very animals living on their own traditional land, animals they are supposed to protect. And what can Mbeza do, the company whom Chief Nyalugwe, with the help of Asian businessmen, tried to have removed from his area simply because it had seen to it that no more customary land was stolen from the community and sold off for 99 years. Not much. Jealousy is poison.

Thanks for the information. ZAWA-SLAMU is equally concerned of these activities. For own information we are now sending patrols from Mfuwe and combine with scouts from there. We also had a combined team from Mfuwe and Lower Zambezi where several arrests have been made. The Saulo village arrests were from Mfuwe. It is costly but we have a mandate to protect wildlife in that area. We are making several changes in leadership like transfering those incharge, some WPOs from Mfuwe and increased investigative operations from Mfuwe and Chilanga. A lot of information has been gathered and we will continue to help until the sector is able to stand on its own again.

On salaries we have sent names of all VS for their salaries for previous months and the remaining months in the year.

Again thanks for the info.