Traditional Authorities have called for the development of by-laws to protect game reserves and national parks in the districts. The calls were made during a three-day learning visit which was organized by Trocaire under ‘Building Climate-Resilient Communities Around Wildlife Protected Areas’ Project which is being implemented in communities surrounding Kasungu National Park, Mwabvi Wildlife Reserve and Lengwe National Park.
The learning visit was aimed at sharing experiences on what is working well and how communities and park authorities are working together in the management and conservation of the game reserves and national parks. The learning tour saw participants visiting Lengwe National Park, Elephant Marsh and Majete Game Reserve where they appreciated wildlife conservation efforts being done.
The learning visit also saw participants engaged in discussions which highlighted some of the challenges affecting conservation works in wildlife protected areas. High electricity tariffs and prolonged blackouts were said to hamper efforts as parks and game reserves struggle to tackle encroachment by charcoal producers. Park authorities also bemoaned the lack of stiffer punishment to those found guilty of wildlife crimes as it is exacerbating the malpractice.
Senior T/A Maganga of Nkhotakota district said the by-laws which were developed in Nkhotakota to protect the fishing areas including good methods for catching fish to ensure there is no indiscriminate fishing of immature fish are really working because communities are now well aware of the repercussions once they are in conflict with the by-laws. The senior chief however bemoaned that the situation is different in many game reserves and national parks which has resulted in continued encroachment and poaching, deliberate bush fires and deforestation.
One of the participants expressed satisfaction upon learning how communities surrounding these protected areas are playing a crucial role in protecting the areas through reafforestation and land management, while at the same time also benefiting through bee keeping, basket weaving, baobab juice making among others.
The learning visit was attended by representatives from implementing partners including YONECO, CICOD, CARD and CISONA, local leaders, government extension workers and officials from Trocaire.