Zambia has 20 National Parks which are looked after by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, under the Ministry of Tourism and Arts.
These range in size from the massive Kafue National Park, to the tiny Lusaka National Park – each one having a variety of different species of wildlife and birdlife, which live in totally diverse habitats.
Surrounding many of the Parks are areas called Game Management Areas (GMAs). They are buffer zones for the Parks are large areas where people and wildlife co-exist.
These 20 National Parks and 34 GMAs amount to almost a third of the Country’s total land area – approximately 225,000 sq km. This is the second largest proportion of land under protected status in Southern Africa.
Some of the Parks have better infrastructure and tourism facilities than others. The more popular ones all have private lodges and/or campsites which are open to visitors – the more remote and smaller Parks do not have any facilities, so check before you travel.
Guideline to Park Rules and Regulations
Entry into a Park is by permit and is at owner’s risk
All visitors are required to register at the entry/exit gates
Firearms must be declared at all points of entry and exits
Maximum Speed Limit is 40 km/ph
Off road driving is strictly prohibited
Sitting on vehicle tops/roof racks or trailers during game viewing is prohibited
Use of saloon vehicles is prohibited in some Parks – it is advisable to use a 4×4 when driving on the smaller roads
Walking is only permitted if you are accompanied by a Escort Wildlife Police Officer
Littering in the Park is strictly prohibited
Feeding and molesting animals is prohibited
Removal or disfiguring of any natural feature is prohibited
You may braai at designated braai stands and only light fires at authorised camp sites
Visitors should only camp at designated camp sites and stay at lodges
A day means the period from 06.00 hrs to 18.00 hrs (6am – 6pm)
A school party shall comprise of more than 10 pupils/students
Wildlife Conservation challenges in Zambia
Most of Zambian rural households depend on local wild animals for their meat protein. They also depend on trees for fuel and both wild animals provide component of traditional medicines used by the majority. This gives environmental challenges including habitat destruction, forest degradation, illegal wildlife trade and impacts from human activities such as agriculture expansion and industrialization.
For thousands of years local people had a great affinity with the land, living sustainably with their environment. Traditionally, a villager had to ask permission from his Chief or Village Headman before he could utilise anything from their environment. For wood, he would ask which branch of a tree could be cut for firewood or for building materials, leaving the rest of the tree intact, to re-grow and be utilised again. Many villages had special days of the year in which they could hunt or fish, again only with permission from their local elders. These traditions were passed down orally from generation to generation and enabled the rural populations to live in harmony with the land.
With onset of the mines in the 1920s there was a greater demand for wood and a need to feed a growing workforce. This put a huge strain on both forests and wildlife. And when diseases, such as HIV, swept through the country, many of the elders died, and with them, their traditional knowledge. The old ways of how to live sustainably, respecting their environment, were lost.
The Country’s population growth over the last 50 years, from 3.7 million to over 16 million people, has put huge pressure on its natural resources. Almost 60% of the population live in rural areas and many of them depend on income from the land and waters that surround them. There is also a great demand from urban populations for charcoal and food. As the population rises it is putting greater pressure on land use and the local flora and fauna.
Due to the need for increased agriculture, to feed an ever growing population, habits are being destroyed. The Game Management Areas where wildlife live outside the National Parks, are becoming more populated and so there are more human/wildlife conflicts: crop raiding by elephants; threats to cattle and livestock by big cats; and threats to people who are just trying to protect their small-scale farms. People cannot easily move to another area – and can you imagine how emotionally and financially devastating it must be to have your whole season’s vegetable crop being wiped out in just night by a herd of hungry elephants?
Game meat is very sort after, especially by wealthy urban dwellers, with game farms only being able to supply a fraction of the demand. It is now more expensive than beef and so illegal bush meat is therefore in great demand. Although poaching is a rural problem, often done by local people, most of the illegal bush meat is transported to the towns and sold commercially where it fetches higher prices. There is also an international demand for illegal wildlife products – elephant ivory, lion bones, pangolin scales, wildlife skins and parrots – which are illegally taken from the wild and then exported – this illegal business in now a worldwide problem.
The growing demand is putting greater pressure on our wildlife in National Parks, protected areas, and even on private game farms, where thousands of animals are poached every year. Snaring, hunting with dogs and firearms are the most common methods used by poachers, as well as the use of fire. This demand is not sustainable and the challenges for the DNPW are immense.