In an article in the Times, we are told that parts of two northern parks are to be degazetted. As the population had increased, villages had spread into the parks. The people were therefore always having run-ins with ZAWA officers. In order to sort out the problem, government has agreed to degazette parts of the parks and allow the people to continue to live there. However, the government is stating that the people must now respect the new borders of the park. Professor Nkando Luo, Minister of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs, also said she was worried about the number of guns in the area. The article does not say how much land will be given to the people or where these sections are but I would guess that they are along the shore of Lakes Mweru Wantipa and Tanganyika where the people can find fish to eat and water to drink.

There are also concerns about the water levels in Lake Mweru Wantipa. The lake is very shallow, almost just a marsh,and seems to be drying up. In an attempt to redress the situation, government intends to plant trees around the shore. We are also told that the two parks – Nsumbu and Mweru Wantipa – will be re-stocked with wildlife.
This story led me to have a look at the area – an area I know nothing about. It seems that few tourists visit. There are little or no tourism facilities within the parks except on the shore of Lake Tanganyika. However, let us use one of Zambia’s favourite words – ‘potential’. And the area does have potential, if only it can be realised.
Lake Mweru Wantipa is a Ramsar Site and an Important Bird Area (IBA). Further south, Lusenga National Park is also an IBA. According to the information, flamingoes, pelicans and shoebills are to be found in the park. The two rivers, Lufubu and Kalangwishi have beautiful waterfalls along their route. You
can find these listed in Guide to Little-Known Waterfalls of Zambia by Quentin Allen, Ilse Mwanza and Heather Chalcraft
From Zambia Tourism:
Mweru Wantipa National Park, adjacent to the lake, used to harbour vast herds of elephant but poaching however has depleted most of the wildlife although there are still some small herds of buffalo. There are no tourist facilities but it is possible to camp along the lakeshore.
Zambia Tourism had no description of Nsumbu. I looked at the ZAWA website and it only told me that you can catch fish in Lake Tanganyika. I then went to Wikipedia which told me that we can find the following wildlife in the park: Fauna: Crocodile, Hippopotamus, Bushbuck, Warthog, Puku, Roan Antelope, Sable Antelope, Eland, Hartebeest, Buffalo, Zebra, Spotted Hyena, Side-Striped Jackal, Serval, Impala, Waterbuck, Reedbuck, Elephant (occasionally), Lion (occasionally), Leopard (occasionally), Blue Duiker (rare), Sitatunga (rare). Birdlife: Flamingo, African Skimmer, Spoonbill, Whiskered Tern, Storks, Ducks, Herons, Grey-Headed Gull, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, White-Winged Black Tern, Whiskered Tern, Fish Eagle, Palmnut Vulture (occasionally), Pel’s Fishing Owl (occasionally).
Lusenga Plains National Park, Zambia Tourism states, is in Luapula province in the North of Zambia. This park has not been operational for many years but it is now being restocked. Impala and zebra have been released, and soon wildebeest . Sabi Sands in SA is working on a project to relocate between 300 and 500 elephant from Sabi to Lusenga Plains and Sumbu NP in May 2009.
I wonder if this happened … Maybe ZTB should update their website …So, having read all I can find on these two parks it is fairly obvious that there is not a lot going on there. That the government has decided to degazette parts of the park is a practical solution to what is actually on the ground. I don’t think it could have been avoided.
Without tourism these parks are dying.
In my opinion, they need to be made into public-private partnerships if we are going to protect these environments for future generations. But who in the private sector would want to take on such a challenge?
Sadly I feel that this is just the thin end of the wedge and that, in years to come, more and more of the park will be degazetted as the human population increases.

From : The Livingstone Weekly

By Gill Staden

23 July 2014