By: Gilbert Banda
Why is it so important for us to conserve nature?
My passion for wildlife came in the early days of my childhood. In 3rd grade, I recall joining a radio program called Chongololo Club of the Air on our national broadcaster, ZNBC. This program was aired every Sunday and the idea was to educate children on wildlife conservation. As a child, I asked a question that still stands today: Why is it so important for you and I to conserve nature? And the simple answer is “For the future generations to come and see.” Poaching is when an animal is killed illegally. It occurs when an animal possesses something that is considered valuable (e.g. the animal’s fur or ivory).
Why do people kill wild animals? Why? I have come to understand that today many people don’t get firsthand information on how to protect our wildlife and the importance of conserving it. As a YALI Network member, I have a role to play: to educate and to conserve.
Why is poaching a problem?
Wildlife poaching in Zambia has negative side effects that affect local communities, wildlife populations and the environment. It is a crime fueled by a lucrative black-market trade of animal parts. Animals also provide a food source to the local community, so if they are poached, food can become scarce. So how do we end poaching in Zambia? People will not stop poaching when they survive on what nature can provide for them. What they fail to understand is that nature in a conserved state can bring economic growth to the country.
My race to stop poaching in Zambia is on track and my main goal is to involve the local chiefs and headmen and the local community. I plan to train them as scouts and educate them about the dangers of poaching and how poaching can affect our economy. I believe that these people who live side-by-side with wild animals in game parks are the owners of the land and they feel they have been left out of decision making. My idea is to empower these people in villages, involve them in decision making and supply them with all relevant information on how to conserve nature. If we can do that, wildlife will be protected.
I recognize that this battle against poaching has a great impact on our national security and economy. I will encourage everyone to work together to combat these threats so we can achieve a tangible reduction of poaching in Zambia. Poaching in Zambia has been recognized on the international stage as a symptom of growing involvement of transnational syndicates in the trafficking of wildlife products, such as rhino horns, leopard skin and elephant tusks.
In 2006, I accepted a challenge to do wildlife conservation programs on how to stop poaching in Zambia. Nature provides all the essentials to the local communities and that is why poaching is on the rise. Today many people still don’t understand that NATURE DOESN’T NEED PEOPLE, but PEOPLE NEED NATURE.
Gilbert Banda is an environmental educator and wildlife conservation pioneer. He believes in the power of reading to enhance leadership, and that through educational and conservation programs, poaching will end in Zambia. Gilbert has been a YALI Network member since 2017.
The views and opinions expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the YALI Network or the U.S. government. YALI Voices is a series of podcasts, videos and blogs contributed by members of the YALI Network.