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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Zim environmental group warns of serious poaching threat

Zim environmental group warns of serious poaching threat

By Alex Bell
25 July 2011

A wildlife and conservation group in Zimbabwe has warned that poaching is
reaching critical levels, which threatens not only the welfare of the
country’s wildlife, but also future tourism.

The Wildlife and Environment Zimbabwe (WEZ) group said that wildlife areas
in the South East Lowveld are under serious threat, including the Gonarezhou
National Park, Manjinji Bird Sanctuary, Chipinge and Malapati Safari Areas,

Bubiana, Chiredzi River, Save and Malilangwe conservancies. These all make
up part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation area, which is the
world’s largest interregional conservation park.

The WEZ said serious poaching is taking place in the areas, with elephants
being killed for ivory, rhinos for the horns and lions, zebra, leopards and
cheetahs all being killed for their skins. The group said this is all
commercial poaching and if it is not prevented quickly “we can right off
wildlife in the Lowveld and we should forget about our participation in the
Great Limpopo Transfrontier tourism.”

The same area is also under serious threat from people who are invading the
conservation areas and killing the elephants and antelopes for meat. The WEZ
said that people are also killing lions and crocodiles because they are
viewed as “pests.”

“They are clearing vegetations for crops such as maize and cotton but the
areas under wildlife are not suitable for cropping and are not good for
cattle ranching as well,” the WEZ said.

The group said: “WEZ appeals to the powers that be to help remove these
people and help them by settling in suitable areas where they can do their

The group added that it has appealed to the Ministries of Environment and
Tourism to intervene, before wildlife in the area goes extinct.

“WEZ is prepared to help The Parks and Wildlife Management Authority with
anti- poaching operations and supplying the intelligent information related
to poaching but for WEZ to do this we request Government to re-establish the
positions of honorary Park officers or warden. Those involved will operate
knowing that they are operating legally within the parameters of the Parks
and Wildlife Act and with the authority derived from the Minister in charge
of Wildlife and Environment,” the group said.               

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