Zambia, where hundreds of animals have disappeared from its national parks because of poaching, has declared war on poachers, state-run media reported on Tuesday.
Minister of Tourism and Arts Sylvia Masebo said poachers will now have a rough time following the arming of wildlife officers with the most sophisticated guns to match those used by poachers, the Zambia Daily Mail said.
"We will get you firearms before the end of this year. ZAWA (Zambia Wildlife Authority) officers have been killed on a number of occasions by ruthless poachers in remote areas. I am declaring war against poaching. ZAWA officers will deal sternly with wildlife crime," she was quoted as saying by the paper after commissioning new uniforms for wildlife officers.
According to her, there is need to give value to animals, adding that animals were not just meant to be eaten by were also a resource that could help in improving the country's well-being. Edwin Matokwani, the head of ZAWA said during the same occasion that his organization will do everything possible to protect wildlife in order to unlock the country's tourism potential. ZAWA, he said, will transform itself into a paramilitary organization with the ability to match the prowess of poachers. Though Zambia has 19 national parks and over 30 game management areas, poachers have depleted animals from the parks, with rhinos and elephants being among the sought-after animals.