Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Save Our Wildlife

EDITORIAL/Save Our Wildlife

22 Oct 2015

AMONGST the key strengths that make Zimbabwe an attractive destination are its vast natural resources that place it among countries with possibly the greatest potential to be among the richest nations in the world.
Wildlife counts among these vast endowments that Zimbabwe has in abundance.
The country boasts of a huge population of elephants, rhinos, lions, buffalos and leopards. Complementing these “big five” are other animal species that make the country a place to be for wildlife enthusiasts.
Favoured with such diverse wildlife, Zimbabwe has been attracting huge numbers of tourists, both foreign and domestic, thereby fattening its national purse.
Substantial revenues are also being earned from upstream and downstream industries whose survival is hinged on wildlife.
Communities are also getting a fair share of the benefits.
But recent events makes one wonder whether Zimbabwe would still have any wildlife to talk about given the upsurge in poaching.
Rangers in Hwange National Park discovered the carcasses of 26 elephants, which were mercilessly killed through cyanide poisoning last week.
The previous week, 14 elephants were found dead in Matusadona and Hwange, with tusks hacked off in some cases.
In 2013 alone, about 300 jumbos were killed by poisoning. The herd is frighteningly coming down due to rampant poaching, and so is the population of other animals. For example, the number of elephants in the northern Sebungwe district fell to 4 000 last year from 13 000 in 2001.
In the Middle Zambezi Valley, the elephant population has dropped to 11 500 from 18 000. In Hwange, estimates suggest that the number has declined by 10 percent to 54 000.
Environment Minister, Oppah Muchinguri was quoted recently blaming the increase in poaching on a United States ban on hunting Zimbabwean elephants for sport. “All this poaching is because of American policies. They are banning sport hunting. An elephant would cost US$120 000 in sport hunting but a tourist pays only US$10 to view the same elephant,” she said, adding that money from sport hunting was crucial in conservation efforts.
This is no time to split hairs.
A multi-dimensional approach is required to save our wildlife whereby all the arms of the State must play their part.
In the case of the legislature, laws safeguarding wildlife must be reviewed urgently to make them more deterrent.
The Judiciary must also rid itself of any red-tape and other vices that might stand in the way of the expeditious delivery of justice to offenders.
The ball, however, lies squarely in the court of the Executive, which must leave no stone unturned in capacitating the parks authorities and the police as opposed to playing the blame game.
The communities around the parks must also play a part by making themselves impenetrable to poachers while flushing out bad apples in their midst.
Admittedly, these communities need to be empowered and incentivised so that they don’t collude with those who seek to rob them of their natural resources.
Since the crisis is pointing to organised syndicates, government cannot go it alone without the support of local, regional and internationally partners.
Poaching must be dealt with the same vigour that the military would respond to any threat to the country’s sovereignty.
This is not the time to give up, especially when our inheritance is at stake.


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