Thursday, February 3

Frying Poachers

The roads in rural Zambia are unpaved and in very poor condition. To be sure, riding on these roads will be a bone-rattling situation.

One road in particular -- Luangwa Road -- is especially bad. Running between Chipata and South Luangwa Park in Eastern Province, this road is potholed and often washes away in the rainy season. One game lodge volunteered to pave the 100-mile-road at their own expense in order to increase tourist traffic. Government, however, refused, claiming paved roads would aid poachers in their escape attempts. As a result, the roads remained unpaved. (Meanwhile, some argued that ignoring development in Eastern Province was a way for then-President Chiluba to punish a province that had not supported him in his presidential bids.)

However, this month, the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) announced it would institute additional checkpoints along major roads to help combat poachers. (Of course, this means paying additional civil servants, something Zambia is currently struggling with.) While checkpoints have existed for a while, added checkpoints might well deter poachers. And maybe Luangwa Road will finally be paved.