By Theresa Chapulapula:
National Parks and Wildlife Director, Brighton Kumchedwa, has said the government has secured funds to refurbish the perimeter fence of Kasungu National Park.
Kumchedwa was briefing stakeholders at a meeting held recently at the park.
Funds totalling $200,000 have been secured by International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw) with support of United States Agency for International Development (USAid).
“The refurbishment of the fence will start in April. We decided to hold stakeholders’ meeting because the support of community members is essential if this endeavour is to be a success,” Kumchedwa said.
He said there have been cases where elephants have left the park injuring people and destroying property.
“The refurbishment of the fence will help address the problem of human-wildlife conflict.
“Usually, when an animal destroys property or kills somebody, the remedy is to have it killed. This reduces wildlife population particularly wild species like elephants. Killing such kind of animals works in reverse because we want the populations to increase. We need to minimise human-wildlife conflict by refurbishing the fence,” Kumchedwa said.
He noted that Combating Wildlife Crime project, which Ifaw is implementing, has reduced poaching at the park.
“Indicators are showing that different populations of animals are increasing. For example, the number of elephants is at 110, up from 55 in 2015. That means the security of the park has improved. Through this project, we have contained the problem of poaching so now we are trying our best to eradicate it,” Kumchedwa said.
He urged members of the community to be at the forefront protecting wildlife.
Kasungu Wildlife Conservation for Community Development Association Chairperson, Siwinda Chimowa, said communities surrounding the fence are excited by the refurbishment of the fence.
“Human-wildlife conflict was a major challenge in the communities around Kasungu National Park. The refurbishment of the fence will save lives and property for people around this area,” Chimowa said.
Apart from providing funds for the refurbishment of the fence, Ifaw is also assisting with law enforcement, recruitment of rangers, supporting communities and infrastructure development.