The Zambia National Community Resources Board Association (ZNCRBA) has called for the immediate suspension of trophy hunting in all hunting blocks until the government releases all funds owed to communities through the individual Community Resource Boards (CRBs).
According to a statement from the CRBs, communities have received no concession fees since 2016 and no hunting revenue since 2018. By law, the communities are entitled to 20% of the concession fees and 50% of the hunting revenue. The chiefs who run the communities are owed a 5% share of both.
Wildlife areas in Zambia are divided into the national parks (where no hunting is allowed) and game management areas (GMA), which act as a buffer between the parks, farmlands and private hunting reserves. Legally, there has to be revenue-sharing from hunting and concession fees with the communities in the GMAs.
The CRBs have withdrawn their signatures to all the hunting permits in their areas and have refused to sign any others. This will stop any trophy hunting in future unless the government pays the funds owed.
The CRBs have been using these funds to support the employment of over 1 000 community scouts, community coordinators and bookkeepers, and to support community development projects (including the establishment of bore holes, schools and clinics) in the GMAs.
The Zambia Wildlife Act of 2015 recognises the communities as co-managers of wildlife within the GMAs. The CRBs are also the signatories to hunting concession agreements, with trophy hunting having become a major source of income for them.
The CRBs have two demands: firstly, to allow hunting operators to pay the CRBs their share of the revenue directly, and vice versa for government fees; this would have avoided the current problems, they say. And secondly, the CRBs want the sharing of concession fees to be reviewed in order to allow the communities to receive a higher share as the land owners in GMAs.
“We would like the nation and stakeholders to know that as communities, we have made every effort to engage and negotiate with the government on how best to resolve these issues, without success; and to ensure that the business of continuing with hunting which does not bring the revenues to communities be declared null and void,” reads the ZNCRBA statement.