Officials from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife have cautioned Mzimba Ngoni chiefs that it is a serious crime to keep and wear regalia made from animal skins and other wildlife products without authorisation from the department.
This transpired on Monday when the department’s director Brighton Kumchedwa convened a meeting at Labour Conference Hall at Mzimba Boma to brief chiefs on the contents of the new National Parks and Wildlife Policy and the revised Act.
“We have convened this meeting to sensitise the chiefs and other local leaders to the new policy and revised Act and penalty provisions,” he said.
Kumchedwa also said his department was persuading the leaders to promote Ngoni culture and traditions which do not endanger wildlife and to make them active players in wildlife conservation.
The policy and the revised Act criminalise possession and use of wildlife products to protect endangered species and other wild animals which are at risk of extinction.
But Inkosi Khosolo, who represented Paramount Chief M’mbelwa V, described the new law as a heavy burden on the people of Mzimba who he said cannot stop wearing Ngoni gear, whose materials come from wild animals.
“Much as we agree that depletion of most endangered species in protected reserves is attributed to poaching…it remains a big challenge for the Ngonis to do without the gear as it will threaten preservation of culture,” he said.
In his remarks, Department of National Parks and Wildlife assistant dierctor Jester Nyirenda advised the Ngonis to take a leaf from their fellow Ngonis in South Africa who rely on factory-made animal skins for Ngoni gear.