Professional Hunters Association of Zambia (PHAZ) met yesterday in the Zambia National Farmers Union boardroom in the capital city of Lusaka for its Annual General Meeting. Spirits were high for the coming year as, despite it being a particularly trying period for the hunting industry in Zambia, game
remains plentiful in those Game Management Areas (GMA) still open to hunting. In fact, there is a pending new Number 1 Chobe bushbuck for the official Zambia Records Book.
The status of those GMAs not allocated remains unanswered by Zambian Wildlife Authority (ZAWA), but PHAZ has received verbal assurance that quotas remain the same as last year for those areas that are open. Last year, Zambia's minister of tourism suspended hunting in some GMAs for one year because of possible corruption in the GMA allocation process. That year is coming to an end, and the Zambian Parliament will want to know the status. In the interim period, poaching has increased in those areas closed to hunting, so the re-opening remains vital not only to the livelihood of safari operators, but also to the communities that rely on the safari industry, and the wildlife that relies on protection from poachers provided by the safari operators. As a separate issue, hunting of all cats in Zambia remains closed pending an offcial count. SCI and PHAZ both continue to offer their help with that count.
That hunting in Zambia is important to SCI is the message conveyed by SCI CEO Phil DeLone, who said Zambia “represents some of the finest hunting in Africa.” Despite rumors to the contrary, hunting remains vibrant in the eight GMAs open to hunting in Zambia. A PHAZ delegation will be at Convention this year to answer any questions SCI Members have on the status of hunting and the numerous species available. PHAZ will also be conducting a seminar of “Fact vs. Fiction” Thursday 11:00 -12:00 and again Friday 3:00-4:00 at the Convention.
In the afternoon of the same day, the Safari Hunting Operators Association of Zambia (SHOAZ) held its Annual General Meeting across town at the Protea Hotel. SHOAZ Chairman Fico Vidale opened the meeting where continued frustration was expressed with ZAWA for responding to inquiries with only acknowledgements that inquires have been received. SHOAZ has had one meeting with ZAWA that was amicable and well attended by ZAWA, and where SHOAZ expressed its eagerness to work with ZAWA.
Members of SHOAZ brought up the idea of collaborating with members of PHAZ to overcome similar issues both are having with ZAWA. Both associations have worked hard but independently on their respective relationships with ZAWA but are now considering standing together to zero in on problems and major issues that actually need to be tackled. Wildlife is disappearing the the areas closed to hunting and government can not ignore the financial opportunities hunting brings to the local communities.
Non-consumptive wildlife use, for example photo safaris, have proven a failure when it comes to bringing in the money the government thought it would. SHOAZ would like to meet with ZAWA to help them find a way out of the current unsustainable situation.
When addressing members of SHOAZ, DeLone assured the board that SCI strongly supports their association and membership and is committed to assisting Zambia and its professional safari industry.
As this is being typed, DeLone, Boretsky and I are in mid-flight to Namibia. Tomorrow we will rejoin
SCI President Craig Kauffman in Windhoek where we will meet with Executive Committee members of
the Namibian Professional Hunters Association (NAPHA).–Scott Mayer