Communities say National Parks Act favours  animals

Communities say National Parks Act favours animals

Community members from areas surrounding Nyika National Park and Vwaza Marsh Game Reserve in Malawi have asked government to revise the current National Parks and Wildlife Act, saying it favours animals and is not serving the interests of people.

Chairperson for Nyika-Vwaza Association in Rumphi, Mary Gondwe, said this on Tuesday in Karonga during a two-day Stakeholder Engagement Plan and Grievance Redress Mechanism (GRM) workshop organised by Malawi-Zambia Transfrontier Conservation Area (MAZA-TFCA) project.

Gondwe said community members are of the view that the current National Parks and Wildlife Act favours animals at the expense of human beings.

“When wild animals destroy people’s fields or when they kill a person, there is nothing done to compensate them but when a person kills an animal, they are given jail sentences as long as 30 years.

“This is making it difficult for people to commit themselves to conservation efforts, as they feel oppressed by the very system they are supposed to protect,” Gondwe said.

Gondwe said collaboration between the Department of Parks and Wildlife and the community in efforts to conserve Nyika and Vwaza Wildlife Reserves will progress well if people living around these areas are also protected by the National Parks and Wildlife Act.

In a separate interview, Project Manager for MAZA-TFCA George Nxumayo said the stakeholder engagement meeting was meant to provide an interactive platform for communities around Nyika National Park and Vwaza Game Reserve and other stakeholders who are interested in conservation and livelihoods of people.

“Stakeholders should expect better management of their grievances by using GRM in which they have been trained by the Malawi Human Rights Commission. In turn, this will enhance ownership and total participation in conservation efforts for Nyika and Vwaza Game Reserves,” Nxumayo said.

On his part, Traditional Authority (T/A) Karonga stressed the need for the provision of proper incentives to people living around the two game reserves for them to own the conservation efforts being done in these areas.

MAZA-TFCA project is being implemented through Ministry of Tourism with funding from the German Government.

Reported by George Mponda