The national conservation action plan for cheetah and African wild dogs in Zambia was launched by the minister of tourism and arts, Dr Charles Banda, and the rhino conservation and management plan, at an official ceremony in Lusaka on 17 April. 

The minister said it was gratifying for him to be able to launch two documents aimed at protecting Zambia’s wildlife resources. The protection plans were contained in The Strategic Rhino Conservation and Management Plan (2019 – 2023) and in The Cheetah and Wild Dog National Action Plan for Zambia (2019 – 2023). 

“This event signifies a milestone in the quest to conserve the wildlife resource which is under threat of extinction for some species,” said Banda.  

The documents highlight the need to build capacity in wildlife management and conservation and in wildlife managers, by providing a clear vision, objectives and interventions to ensure sustainable conservation.  

“The ministry has continued to build the capacity of the department of national parks and wildlife by securing treasury authority to recruit 300 additional wildlife police officers into the department of national parks and wildlife. This will help to ensure effective protection of wildlife while providing employment for Zambians,” the minister said.  

The range for cheetah has been slowly contracting and these animals have remained mostly in protected areas in the western parts of Zambia. Sadly, they have not been seen in South Luangwa National park for almost a decade. Wild dogs have a wider distribution, but their numbers are also falling. In addition to shrinking ranges, the two species face disease threats, poaching and deliberate snaring.   

The Zambian government recognises the importance of cheetah and wild dogs to the ecological functioning of Zambia’s protected areas, and to the development of tourism. They are charismatic species and form part of the top big five carnivores found in Zambia along with hyena, leopard and lion.

Banda said the national conservation action plan for cheetah and wild dog would be similar to the previously implemented rhino strategy. It would also be aligned with the seventh national development plan as it supports tourism development through the restocking of identified national parks. 

“This plan will be implemented under five themes; capacity development, knowledge and information, information transfer, co-existence, land use, political commitment, policy and legislation and national planning,” said Banda. It will provide overall management guidance in strategies used to achieve the objectives. – Press release