By Rebecca Mushota
President Edgar Lungu has directed the Ministry of Tourism and Arts to work with the Ministry of Local Government and Housing to review various town plans and include space for game reserves.
President Lungu said game reserves give people an opportunity to revitalise their lives, reduce stress and improve productivity and the quality of life.
Game reserves would give many cities and towns in Zambia the opportunity to gain income through strategically placed restaurants, lodges and even offer residents employment.
The President was speaking yesterday when he officially opened the Lusaka Park, a wildlife protection area which is an initiative of the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA).
The area is situated about 30 kilometers from the city centre and next to the Lusaka South Multi-facility Economic Zone.
“I would like to call on you, honourable Jean Kapata (Minister of Tourism and Arts) and your team to partner with the Ministry of Local Government and Housing with the view to start drawing up plans for establishing game parks in surrounding towns and cities in Zambia, which in addition to the development of tourism, will also enhance our wildlife conservation efforts,” he said.
He said as urbanisation grows, there is a growing desire in people to be close to nature and such sanctuaries needed to be within reach of their residential areas.
This has the potential to grow into higher productivity and subsequently rapid economic growth.
President Lungu gave an example of Kasama, as a town that would benefit from having a wildlife protection area especially if it was situated close to Chishimba Falls.
President Lungu said the establishment of the Lusaka Park after many years of its conception in the 1990s, reaffirmed Zambia’s commitment to sustainable development.
With increasing visits by domestic and international tourists to Lusaka Park, the local economy would also benefit.
President Lungu also urged the Lusaka City Council to come up with a central park with facilities for jogging, biking, dining, concerts, family picnics and other recreational facilities to improve the quality of life for residents and employment.
The council should also rehabilitate abandoned or disused community parks so that they were turned into centres of recreation.
ZAWA acting director general Kampamba Kombe said the park was initially a water catchment area that was affected by encroachment, illegal quarrying, mining and charcoal burning activities.
Mr Kombe said in the 1990s, ZAWA and the Forestry Department decided to make it a sanctuary for injured or orphaned animals in order to save the area as well as provide outdoor leisure activity closer to people.
The project has cost about K5 million over the years and it would provide walking safaris, bird watching, camping and environmental education.
Ms Kapata thanked all partners that worked towards establishing the park which was designated in May, 2011.
President Lungu apart from viewing the animals in the park, also spent time at the picnic area chatting with former president Rupiah Banda and other officials.
He also unveiled the memorial monument.
High commissioners and ambassadors accredited to Zambia, Patriotic Front General Secretary Davies Chama, ministers, permanent secretaries, nature conservatists also attended the event.