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By Abigail Chaponda in London, United Kingdom
Minister of Tourism and Arts Charles Banda on Wednesday held bilateral talks with United Kingdom’s Natural History Museum Director Sir Michael Dixon and discussed collaboration between the Zambia Government and the Museum on establishing a Natural History Museum in Zambia.
During the meeting, the Minister said the Zambian Government is committed to establish a natural history museum that will research and document the country’s biodiversity.
Hon. Banda said putting up the Museum will enable Zambians to be able to trace where they come from, where they are and where they will be tomorrow adding that the Museum will be a wealth of information that people can always refer to.
He said there was need to preserve Zambia’s history for the benefit of its present and future generations through the establishment of a museum of natural history in Lusaka which will benefit Zambians and the international community.
The Minister said President Edgar Lungu was serious about establishing the Museum saying the project is an important undertaking and is intended to preserve and showcase Zambia’s local nature and natural history collections.
“We are looking to forging new partnerships with different countries, regional cultural, scientific and wildlife that will help us put up a Museum like yours that has been in existence for a longtime. I am here to explore and learn how as a country we can secure a sustainable future for our Museums and preserve the past, present and future of Zambia,” he said.
And Sir Dixon said that the Natural History Museum was happy to work and partner with the Zambian government.
He said the British Government can support important undertakings like the establishing of a Natural History Museum in Zambia.
Sir Dixon said Natural History Museum exists to inspire a feeling of the natural world and give answers to questions that people ask concerning humanity and the planet.
He said the natural history museum is a world-leading science research centre and has a unique collection and unmatched expertise in undertaking issues such as disease eradication, the environment and managing resource scarcity.
The Minister also toured the Museum and had an opportunity to see Zambia’s prized fossil – the skull of Broken Hill Man. The skull was discovered in Broken Hill (now Kabwe) on June 17, 1921. The skull of Broken Hill Man, also referred to as Homo heidelbergensis, belonged to an adult male and may be between 200,000 and 300,000 years old.
The Minister is currently in the United Kingdom to attend the illegal wildlife trade (IWT) conference hosted by the UK government from 11 to 12 October 2018.
The illegal wildlife trade is an urgent global issue, threatening some of the world’s most iconic species with extinction, damaging sustainable economic growth and the livelihoods of vulnerable people in rural communities. It’s worth up to £17 billion per year and is the fourth most lucrative transnational crime after drugs, weapons and human trafficking.
The 2018 London conference is an opportunity for global leaders to build on previous efforts, address the underlying issues that facilitate the IWT, and make steps to tackle this criminal trade.