Zambia’s first president of the post-colonial era Kenneth Kaunda has opposed a large scale copper mining project at heart of the Lower Zambezi National Park, one of the country’s biggest national parks.
In 2014, the ruling Patriotic Front party gave a go-ahead to mining activities in the park, a move that was challenged in court by conservationists.
But last week, a High Court ruled that the open-cast copper mining project should go ahead in the park, which is located 174 km (108 miles) south-east of the capital, Lusaka.
The verdict has been opposed by many, including the World Wide Fund for Nature, while an online petition has garnered more than 5,000 signatures.
Mr Kaunda, in a statement, said the “the proposed mining operation in the middle of the national park poses the biggest threat in history to the wildlife and pristine wilderness that has survived so many centuries of challenges and supported generations of Zambians.”
The park, which has over 400 bird species and has gold deposits, covers an area of 4,092 square kilometers (1,579 sq miles) and sits opposite Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.