Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

***The views expressed in the articles published on this website DO NOT necessarily express the views of the Commercial Farmers' Union.***

Hunting of black rhinos on farms on the increase

Hunting of black rhinos on farms on the increase

Zimbabwe’s policy of redistributing land owned by white commercial farmers 
has caused unmitigated “ecological disaster”, according to an eminent 
Chief Reporter

Professor Johan du Toit, says wildlife populations have been overhunted in 
Zimbabwe after farms were handed over to black Zimbabweans.

He warned that the country’s black rhinos, one of the species that attracts 
high-spending foreign tourists and hunters, is at great risk right now, 
faced with the spectre of extinction.

But he believes international help could avert the disaster.

Professor du Toit, director of the Mammal Research Unit, says commercial 
white-owned farms in Zimbabwe were home to many rare large mammals, 
including cheetah, black rhino and sable – a type of antelope.

“White-owned commercial farmland and ranchland in Zimbabwe supported a very 
significant proportion of the country’s biodiversity. It has been severely 
impacted after land was thrown over to subsistence agriculture.”

The Zimbabwe Government insists that prior to the agrarian revolutiion only 
about 30 percent of white-owned land was actually used for farming, the 
minister of Environment Francis Nhema said, dismissing the findings..

But the professor dismisses this, saying most of the arable land was 
cultivated, while the rest supported indigenous woodland that was used for 
grazing cattle, or for wildlife, or both.

“The issue is that dumping impoverished peasants on geometrically-plotted 
patches of virgin non-arable land, without any infrastructure, tillage 
equipment, venture capital, housing, water supplies, or training will result 
quite simply in an ecological disaster,” says Professor du Toit.

“Wildlife populations are being overhunted and snared, habitat loss has been 
rapid, and the whole crisis risk getting exponentially worse.”

Professor du Toit acknowledges that Zimbabwe itself cannot afford to provide 
that sort of infrastructure. But he believes the international community 
could step in and help. He says its too late to undo the damage, but there 
was need to save the little that left.

He believes Zimbabwe can still find a solution to cut its losses. But if it 
fails to do so, he thinks the future is bleak.

“We’re going to lose some large populations and some important gene pools in 
the near future,” says Professor du Toit.


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