President Edgar Lungu is expected to call in the army to halt the illegal trade in Mukula tree logs, Muchinga province minister Maloza Sichone said on Tuesday.
Muchinga is most severely affected. Sichone said the measure is necessary as the tree is now threatened with extinction. “We have found it necessary for President Lungu to call in the army before the Mukula tree is completely wiped out by illegal traders,” Sichone said.
Despite a ban to curb illegal harvests and trade in Mukula logs, the practice continues unabated. Scores of suspected illegal traders were arrested in Muchinga, and police seized more than 150 logs. Illegal traders also resorted to using fake permits to sidestep the moratorium.
Some people are now calling on government to come up with more stringent measures. Chief Chamuka of the Lenje people in Chisamba in Central Province warned that the tree species risked being destroyed.
“The continued smuggling of the Mukula tree is really worrying. There are only a few of these tree species in the country, and hence the need for extra measures to protect the tree,” he said.
An estimated 276 000 hectares in Zambia is lost due to illegal logging.
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