Relevance of Community Resource boards to a just distribution of wildlife resource benefits:A case study of Mwape Chiefdom in Eastern Zambia
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Community Resource Boards (CRBs) are important for the distribution of wildUfe resources in Zambia, hi 1998 under the Administrative Management Design for Game Management Areas (ADMADE), and taking into consideration the Wildlife Act (No. 12 of 1998), CRBs were created to work with ZAWA. Digging into history, facts before us are that colonization brought a new dimension to the issues of conservation by creating National Parks (NPs), Game Management Areas (GMAs) and Open Areas (OAs). Zambian law bisected the land into reserves and Crown lands. Reserves were for the natives (indigenous inhabitants) and were governed under customary tenure, and crown land was governed imder British law. The natives lost their customary land and user rights to wildlife as they gave way to NPs and did not get any compensation. For example, in Mwape Chiefdom, the creation of GMAs and game ranches resulted in many people inhabiting the fringes of Mvuvye River and Luangwa River posing an environmental problem of river siltation. This has resulted into tension between the local communities and the government. The demise of colonialism has brought a perpendicular turn in restoring the lost user rights to the natives, and CRBs have become a vehicle towards achieving a 50% share of wildlife sales. Wildlife currently belongs to the government as enshrined in the Zambia Wildlife Act.The CRB in Mwape Chiefdom has a duty like any other CRB in the country to co-manage wildlife resources on behalf of its chiefdom. It is unfortunate that the local CRB is not working effectively and it needs to re-organize itself, to get safari operators to partner with them in the sale of wildlife, and to end its unsettled dispute over the boundary errors with Chisomo CRB. Nevertheless, the conclusion of this research study is that the current government policy on the distribution of wildlife resource benefits is found to be just in the sense that there is a 50-50 share between the concerned parties. However, the government could still empower more the CRBs and revise the Zambia Wildlife Act and ownership of wildlife.The research is qualitative, descriptive and historical and uses interviews and observations; it is also philosophical in its analysis and appUes some environmental ethical theories and John Rawls' theory of justice to the distribution of wildlife resource benefits. Much has been achieved in the area of conservation of wildlife and there are few cases of poaching.