|We should ringfence UNWTO Indaba|
|Friday, 20 July 2012 00:00|
ONE thing that is common in human life and progressive thinking is ringfencing one’s interests.
The millions of precast concrete walls and perimeter fences that greet our eyes day and night protect properties and goods against those who would, given half a chance, deface, steal, destroy or disturb the said investment.
After winning the bid to co-host the 2013 UNWTO General Assembly with Zambia, Zimbabwe has invested economically, politically and socially and hence there is every reason to ringfence its interests before, during and after the event.
This is an international investment. As time ticks away and the countdown to the UNWTO General Assembly to be hosted in Victoria Falls in August next year starts in earnest, sticky issues must be dealt with decisively.
One such issue is the Wildlife-Based Land Reform Programme as presented by the Save Valley Conservancy in Chiredzi.
Events there suggest a growing resistance and delaying tactics by the former owners, resilience by the local community to take over the mandatory 51 percent indigenisation stake. That brews a conflict and because of the networking of the former white farmers, this issue has spilled into the various embassies who have relayed their concerns to their own countries.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, the vanguard of our tourism industry and chief marketer of the Great Nation of Zimbabwe, has been pushed backwards by the events and so has National Parks, the vanguard of our wildlife. It is no longer time to go back into what is happening at Save Valley Conservancy but to look for a feasible solution. We must respect our own laws and abide by them, which is what National Parks director-general Vitalis Chadenga is doing but our people must also not take the law into their own hands.
“The law on indigenisation is clear and the confusion that is there makes it difficult for me to release permits for Save Valley Conservancy.
Who do I give the permits to? Who is who there?
ZTA boss Mr Karikoga Kaseke, who has been contacted by the feuding parties, had this to say: “The issue at Save Valley is now spilling into the UNWTO hosting. Germany, France, Japan and South Korea are complaining and threatening action.
“They want to impose travel warnings on us but as now required by UNWTO, they have to talk to us, so it’s urgent for us to deal with this issue once and for all.
“Germany is powerful in EU these days because of its economy. It might influence others to participate in events only on the Zambian side. That is not good for us.
“After the signing of the trilateral agreement between Zimbabwe, Zambia and UNWTO, the hosting cannot be reversed but they might not attend the events on our side, as they are threatening.
“We have tried to go into the issue, as ZTA board and met with the warring parties three times but the solution now lies in our two ministers — Walter Mzembi and Francis Nhema — discussing.
“The wildlife portfolio is with Minister Nhema so we will have to ensure that our two ministers meet,’’ says Mr Kaseke
The point is the two ministers should ringfence Zimbabwe’s interests by coming up with a lasting solution to the problem. This country should not continue going round and round the issue, because so many things can happen to dampen our spirit at the UNWTO General Assembly. What has confused and complicated the situation is that in March, instead of ceding the 51 percent to the surrounding black community led by their Member of Parliament, Mr Aleiss Baloyi, the conservancy announced that it has a new chairman, Mr Basil Nyabadza.
The community has vehemently disowned Mr Nyabadza, a Manicaland businessman and politician, saying they did not know him and accusing him of being a front of the whites at the conservancy.
Mr Nyabadza has committed himself and moved on to write letters confirming his appointment and some of the letters have found their way into some embassies that are now rattling pressure on ZTA.
The Chiredzi community vehemently dismisses him as a person from Manicaland, behaving as if they do not exist. “Why should a person come from Manicaland to claim a stake, when Chiredzi is in Masvingo and after all, we are the surrounding community that has always lived here even before the conservancy was established” reads a joint communiqué from the villagers.
With the wrangling far from being over, the time to act is now.
Save Valley Conservancy is home to the Big Five — lion, buffalo, leopard, elephant and rhino. There are strong populations of several vulnerable mammals like cheetah, serval, brown hyena and sable antelope.
There is also an impressive array of reptiles, fish, bats and frogs that also flourish.
Other mammal favourites include giraffe, eland, bushbuck, jackal, kudu, wildebeest, impala, warthog, bush pig, crocodile, nyala, duiker, honey badger, hippo, spotted hyena, vervet monkey, Sharpe’s grysbok, red and Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, waterbuck, klipspringer, zebra and baboon.
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The region is classified as an Important Bird Area with scores of Zimbabwe’s 670 recorded species. Raptors are abundant and an avifauna list is viewable here. The best times of year for birding are November, and when there are seasonal wetlands in March.
Black and white rhino
Of the five rhinoceros species remaining worldwide, both African species are found in Save Valley Conservancy.
The black rhino is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN) as critically endangered and the white rhino is near threatened.
A century ago, around 400 000 wild black rhinos ranged over sub-saharan Africa.
From the 1970s to 1990s, they declined by 96 percent.
Today it is estimated there are less than 2 500 due to trophy hunting, habitat loss and poaching for horn.
Establishing a sanctuary for the intensive protection of rhino was one guiding purpose in setting up Save Valley Conservancy.
In the early 1990s it secured a large area for a herd of sufficient size to ensure genetic viability.
Today Save Valley is Africa’s most successful black rhino breeding programme.
However, the ICUN determine that current poaching levels in Zimbabwe are unsustainable and threaten to erase the population gains we have achieved. Accordingly we have extended our security team. Urgent action now needs to be taken to equip our Anti-poaching Scouts.
Also known as the African wild dog or painted wolf, the painted dog is the rarest large carnivore in Africa. Like the black rhino, it is also Red-Listed as critically endangered by the IUCN; as few as 5 700 remain in the wild.
Their main threat is poaching by snare.
Save Valley Conservancy works in the community to encourage alternative sustainable practices.
With dramatic multi-coloured coats and large round ears, painted dogs are fascinating canids.
Three to five million years of evolution separates them from the other members of the dog family such as wolves or domestic breeds.
Among the fastest and most efficient African predators, they are highly social and live a rich cooperative pack existence.
Amazing opportunities exist in Save Valley Conservancy to watch these dogs on a special den-viewing safari.
Dens may sometimes be abandoned aardvark holes.
Usually it is the dominant female that breeds and litters of up to 11 pups are born black with white spots. For the first 12 weeks the puppies are nursed in and around the den.
Their antics are an unforgettable sight. If well managed the conservancy can stand the test of time.