President Lungu toured Nakonde boarder yesterday to have on-site check of the extent of illegal trading in Mukula tree.
The president had warned illegal traders to stop immediately. He has further directed the minister of Home Affairs and law enforcement agencies to be on high alert to ensure this retrogressive practice is curbed.
But what is this Mukula tree? Why are we witnessing people being arrested for illegal timber trading and impounding trucks laden with some tree species?
Why is this making headlines in the news and the media?
Mukula is not an ordinary tree species but a jewel.
This rare and slow growing species is now on the verge of extinction because of indiscriminate harvesting due to its valuable properties.
The Mukula tree, whose scientific name is Pterocarpus chrysothrix, is not popular among the common species like the Pine, Neem, Mukwa or Rosewood but it is believed to be most valuable due to the many properties that it has, some which are silent.
For a long time, meek attention has been paid to monitoring how the timber industry has been operating and how the country’s precious resource has been exiting the border lines.
In the past, Mukwa trees were the most vulnerable trees which were being exported in most cases illegally by some traders.
But all of a sudden, the Mukula tree has popped on the scene.
It is on high demand on the international market and is being cut indiscriminately in most parts of the country by villagers who are selling it to traders at K40 per log who later on export the commodity.
The Mukula tree has three layers where the heart wood or inner brown part is used for making gun buts; the second one is used in the timber industry for furniture and the like, while the outer part is the one used for medicinal purposes.
The later function is the more reason those trading in Mukula tree harvest everything unlike other species, where only the heart wood is taken because that is the only usable part.
The Mukula tree, which takes more than 90 years to mature, is widely spread in all provinces of Zambia apart from Copperbelt, North Western and Western provinces.
The sudden soaring demand for the species in Zambia now, has probably been triggered after the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi and Mozambique intensified security around the harvesting the tree otherwise it has been in existence for many years.
Let’s protect this tree. We can create jobs and revenue for the country if legal trading in Mukula is promoted