LUSAKA, Zambia (AP) — Zambia’s founding president Kenneth Kaunda has issued a rare public plea to protest the construction of a major copper mine in a national park on the Zambezi River.

The 95-year-old Kaunda says the mine planned for Lower Zambezi National Park “poses the biggest threat in history to the wildlife and pristine wilderness that has survived so many centuries of challenges.”

Kaunda, who created the park while in office, called it one of the southern African nation’s most popular destinations and a key wildlife corridor.

His statement published Thursday by the Lusaka Times comes days after the High Court ruled that the Kangaluwi mine project could go ahead.

The plan to create a mine in the park has faced resistance from environmental activists, Zambia’s tourism minister, the Economic Association of Zambia and others who warn that pollution will harm the park and Zimbabwe’s nearby Mana Pools National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The mining license for the project is owned by Mwembeshi Resources Ltd, which reportedly is registered in Dubai.