Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Wildlife land reform policy will have huge impact on tourism

Wildlife land reform policy will have huge impact on tourism

By Tichaona Sibanda
9 March 2011

A leading wildlife expert in Zimbabwe has warned that government’s push to 
implement the controversial wildlife based land reform will have ‘a huge’ 
impact on tourism.

Johnny Rodrigues, chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force told SW 
Radio Africa on Wednesday that wildlife is the hallmark of tourism in 
Zimbabwe and any further disturbances to the industry will kill off the 

‘It’s a pity people are being used as political tools. Elections are coming 
and this is why you have people who support the regime going into these 
conservancies. Genuine conservationists had the welfare of animals at heart.

But to suggest that bringing in new faces aligned to one political party and 
hope they will turn around wildlife conservancy as part of this new policy 
is just fantasy and pure greed,’ Rodrigues said.

Authorities announced on Tuesday that they will now start forcing the 
predominantly white conservancy owners to join with black partners in a new 
round of so-called land reforms.

Parks and Wildlife Authority Director-General, Vitalis Chadenga, described 
the new policy as ‘one of the unfinished businesses of the land reform 
program’. It has mainly targeted ranches and conservancies situated in the 
southern half of Zimbabwe.

Chadenga told the state controlled Herald the wildlife-based land reform 
policy will see at least 60 indigenous people getting leases from the 
government or ‘sharing’ conservancies with white former owners. Sharing 
means the owners will be forced to give up 51% of their shares.

Most of those eyeing the conservancies are ZANU PF heavyweights and senior 
military personnel, who include cabinet Minister Stan Mudenge, Masvingo 
Governor Titus Maluleke, former deputy Minister Shuvai Mahofa, Major-General 
Engelbert Rugeje and retired Brigadier-General Gibson Mashingaidze.

Rodrigues said wildlife management is a specialized field and people who 
were qualified to care for the wildlife have been driven off their 
properties to make way for people who, in most cases, have no experience in 
the field.

‘A decade ago, we had 640 game ranches in Zimbabwe but its now gone down to 
five. Of 14 conservancies before 2000, the last one was grabbed only 
recently, leaving none at all. Animals are being killed indiscriminately and 
there’s a lot of commercial poaching as well,’ Rodrigues added.

Unscrupulous hunters and safari operators from South Africa and Botswana are 
targeting Zimbabwe and have reportedly been responsible for hunting the very 
few animals left. They are also reportedly buying hunts from the new 
settlers, who have no idea what hunts are really worth so they are paid a 
very small sum, allowing huge profits to be made by the unscrupulous 

‘Tourism is being hugely affected by this. They are spending millions 
marketing tourism and telling the world they want the tourists to come back. 
The tourists aren’t going to come back because the basics and principals of 
the industry have been thrown out the window,’ according to Rodrigues.

Two years ago the head of the United Nations programme to protect endangered 
species said that Zimbabwean security forces were spearheading the poaching 
of elephants and rhinos in the country.

Willem Wijnstekers, secretary-general of the UN Convention on International 
Trade in Endangered Species, said that between 2008 – 2010 security forces 
had killed about 200 rhinos, putting that population on the verge of 
extinction in Zimbabwe.


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