November 18th 2019
A Netflix Christmas blockbuster set in Zambia starring Rob Lowe and Sex in the City actress Kirsten Davis is highlighting the dilemma faced by the African country’s government in winning conservation battles against foreign mining interests.
‘A Holiday in the Wild,’ charts characters played by Lowe and Davis as they combat ivory poachers, institutional indifference and the orphaning of baby elephants in one of the country’s vast National Parks.
It is a film where fiction mirrors fact; Last month a court in the capital, Lusaka, ruled in favour of allowing controversial open-cast mining in the pristine Lower Zambezi National Park.
Although that decision was overruled – for now – by Zambian Mining and Tourism Ministers last week, fears overseas mining interests may have more clout than conservationists linger.
Visited by hundreds of British, American and Australian tourists every year, the 4,092 square kilometre Lower Zambezi National Park is home to enormous herds of elephant, some up to 100 strong, along with water buffalo and waterbuck are common.
The film highlights the dilemma faced by the African country’s government in winning conservation fights against foreign mining interests, particularly Lower Zambezi National Park.
The park also hosts good populations of lion and leopard, and the ubiquitous cry of the fish eagle rings out across it vast escarpments.
But the country’s High Court gave its approval for a huge copper mine to be built in the haven for endangered species despite years of opposition by conservationists.
Even Kenneth Kaunda, 95, Zambia’s founding president after winning independence from Britain and who created the park during his 27 years in office, added his voice to the chorus of disapproval.
He said the project at the Kangaluwi mine saying it ‘poses the biggest threat in history to the wildlife and pristine wilderness that has survived so many centuries of challenges.’
President Kaunda also expressed fears for the people living around the Lower Zambezi valley, should the mining activities proceed.
Last week, in the Zambian Parliament, opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema – who specialised in mining privatisation for British accountancy form Grant Thornton before becoming a politician – was accused of having shares in the holding company for the mine.
Minister of Mines and Minerals Development Richard Musukwa told the House that Mr Hichilema is one of the directors in Zambezi Resources, the holding company of Mwembeshi Resources.
Visited by hundreds of British, US and Australian tourists every year, the 4,092 square kilometre Lower Zambezi National Park is home to enormous herds of elephant and hippos.
The original disputed licence to mine in the Park was granted in 2014 by then Mining Minister Harry Kalaba. Mr Kalaba has since swapped his political allegiance and is now a close ally of Hichilema.
Hichilema has publicly challenged the authorities to provide evidence of any wrongdoing although failed to condemn the court ruling.
In the film Holiday in the Wild, Davis plays a recently separated mother of one who flies to Zambia for a luxury solo Safari.
After meeting Lowe she volunteers to help baby elephants whose mothers had been killed and their tusks removed by Ivory poachers at a rough and ready Elephant sanctuary camp.
There she helps teach orphaned baby elephants interact with a herd again over the Christmas period.
The film has attracted favourable reviews from critics.
Source Mail Online