Nyemudzai Kakore Herald Reporter
China yesterday donated $2,3 million worth of equipment to be used to curb the illegal hunting and poaching of game in this country. An additional $100 000 was added to help set up a Zim- China foundation for the protection of wildlife. The $2 million booster comes at a time when Cecil, the country’s most famous lion, was killed recently by an American hunter at Hwange National Park.
The 13-year-old lion was a major tourist attraction and was part of an Oxford University research project.
The equipment donated by China includes lorries, SUVs, pick-up trucks, mobile radios, telescopes and tents.
Speaking during the signing ceremony, Minister of Environment, Water and Climate Cde Oppah Muchinguri, said the country was burdened with huge costs of managing and conserving wildlife population.
“Revenue inflows for the conservation have been affected over the years by withdrawal of donor support due to illegal sanctions, wildlife trade restrictions, unwarranted bad publicity and the decline in tourists from key markets,” said Minister Muchinguri.
She said it was difficult for conservation to be wholly-funded and sustained by Government, without donor, private sector and international support.
The current constraints, therefore, required the development of innovative ways of managing protected areas.
The two national parks being supported are Hwange National Park which is the largest park in Zimbabwe occupying about 14 650 square kilometres and Mana Pools National Park, a UNESCO National World Heritage Site covering 2 196 square kilometres.
Chinese Ambassador Mr Lin Lin said the funding came as a result of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s commitment of assisting the conservation of wildlife during President Mugabe’s visit to China in August last year.
“On behalf of the Chinese government, this cause is to support wildlife protection in Zimbabwe. The country is facing challenges of extinction of certain animal species and China is willing to co-operate in the protection of wildlife,” said Ambassador Lin.
“This symbolises great importance China has attached to wildlife protection as the government is very strict when it comes to wildlife conservation and has put up policies and laws to govern the issue.”
Minister Muchinguri said contrary to media reports, the exporting of the sub-adult elephants recently was done in accordance with local and international regulatory requirements.
Cde Muchinguri said the elephants have since arrived in China safely.
Zimparks director Mr Edson Chidziya said an additional $20 million was required for all the operational support to reduce poaching and other problems.
“We do have the operational costs which are affecting us and we need an additional $20 million for refurbishment and rehabilitation for our parks which include roads, infrastructure in the parks and game park fences.”