The Zambian government re-instated a total trade ban in Mukula logs, barely a week after a partial relaxation of harvesting within 100 km of concession areas.
Minister of Lands Jean Kapata said the measure, which excluded other timber species, was intended to encourage investment for value-addition in concession areas.
“While we are allowing trade in other timber species, there will be no trade in Mukula logs. We want investors in the countries where our Mukula goes for processing to come and set up shop here in Zambia,” Kapata said. Zambia is reported to have lost billions of kwacha in illegal trade of Mukula logs that find their way to the Far East.
A regional investigation in the smuggling of the endangered tree species revealed that Chinese syndicates are behind the illegal harvest of Mukula trees in Zambia and other neighbouring countries.
According to the investigation, an estimated 250 to 300 containers of raw Mukula logs were being sent to China every month. This represented a region-wide decimation of the resource whose value was estimated at US$16 million per month.
Apparently, the smuggling route is the same used for trafficking rhino horn and ivory, among other wildlife contraband.
Meanwhile the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) this week handed over K7.8 million worth of impounded Mukula logs to the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.
ZRA Commissioner-General Kingsley Chanda said 52 trucks laden with Mukula were impounded last year in joint operations involving customs, the Zambian army and other law enforcement agencies.