Chief Shezongo of the Ila people of Itezhi tezhi district in Central Province, has urged government to find an effective solution to the continued dying of animals at Dendro Park Ranch in Itezhi tezhi.
Anguished by the reported death of 50 wild animals at Balla Balla Safaris, a 7,000 acre fully game fenced ranch located in the Southern Kafue National Park , Chief Shezongo said government should take urgent steps to protect animals at Dendro Park.
ZANIS reports that the traditional leader expressed concern when he visited Itezhi-thezhi District Commissioner Hendrix Kaimana, at his office.
“It is a sad development happening in my chiefdom, animals are dying of thirsty at Balla Balla Ranch, government must do something,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Maimane, who has confirmed that more than 50 animals are believed to have died at the ranch has blamed the proprietors for the death of animals at Dendro Park Ranch.
He said he was saddened by the high number of carcasses that he found in the park and wondered why the owners could not report to relevant authorities.
Mr Kaimana said there is need for the government to institute investigations to establish whether animals were genuinely dying of thirsty or sabotage.
The District Commissioner also said he has received a petition from the community in Chief Shezongo, urging government to terminate Dendro Park’s concession.
He alleged that the lease for Dendro Park expired some years back and, that it was not renewed but, that the ranch has continued operating without the knowledge of the Community Resource Board (CRBs).
He said that the community suspect that the animals are dying because of negligence since the outfitter’s lease expired some time back and also because the community has rejected the investor.
“It has come out that the locals do not want Dendro Park to continue operating in the chiefdom because, owners are hostile , disrespectful and the ranch does not provide any form of Corporate Social Responsibility(CSR) in the 22 years it has been operating in the area” Mr Kaimana explained.
He said since 2001, the communities in Chief Shezongo have been trying to have the lease terminated but, the proprietor has managed to continue operating.
The DC said the locals have resolved to take the matter to court for settlement as it has caused instability in Shezongo Chiefdom.
“The lease agreement expired for the outfitter and the Chief is living in fear as community members in the recent past attempted to dethrone him on account that they suspect him of being a beneficiary” Mr Kaimana said.
Meanwhile, Former Zambian Diplomat to Japan and Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) Deputy National Secretary Jeff Kaande said there is need for government to urgently address the problem of animals that are needlessly dying in Dendro Park.
Mr Kaande, who is next in the throne of Chief Shezongo, said if the investor has failed to provide water for the animals, then government must order the release of the animals into the wild.
“Those animals are people’s animals and if the investor fails, the state has the right to release the animals in order to preserve them,” Mr Kaande said.
Balla Balla, trading as Dendro Park Limited is owned by private investors since 1996 and is situated near the Southern Kafue National Park and less than 40 kilometres from Ngoma Air strip in Itezhi tezhi and is a major international safari hunting destination with a diversity of indigenous and prime game species, including some large herds of buffalos.