Highly-placed people, staff in rural district councils and safari operators are involved in poaching, Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri has said. Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri was speaking after receiving from China vehicles, a helicopter, a drone and an assortment of equipment worth $2 million for anti-poaching. The equipment was received at a colourful event at Hwange National Park last Friday.
She said: “As we frantically try to protect our wildlife from organised gangs internally and externally, we are now confronted with increased illegal activity by our own people and organisations that connive to undermine Zimbabwean laws, international laws and CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) regulations.
“We are aware that an increasing number of highly placed people, our rangers, safari operators, professional hunters, land owners, some rural district councils as well as some communities are involved in poaching and illegal wildlife trade.
“These culprits are also to blame for the few resources that are accruing to communities under the CAMPFIRE programme through their quest for shameful profits and gain.” The equipment came hardly two weeks after Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Zimbabwe where he, together with President Mugabe, witnessed the signing of a number of economic recovery deals.
The helicopter and the drone would give new impetus to Zimbabwe’s anti-poaching drive as they would provide a wider physical and technical coverage to Hwange National Park, which at 14 700 square km, is almost the size of Belgium.
Chinese ambassador Mr Huang Ping handed over part of the equipment.
The consignment, which includes off-road trucks, back-up parts, solar chargers, uniforms, sleeping bags, a helicopter and a drone, was sourced through the Sino-Zimbabwe Wildlife Foundation, a hybrid non-governmental organisation formed between National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority of Zimbabwe and Chinese well-wishers.
Sino-Zimbabwe Wildlife Foundation has announced a $500 000 funding for national parks for 2016. Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri expressed gratitude to chiefs and communities for the pivotal role they are playing in reporting cases of poaching and helping to ensure criminals are brought to book.
She said the donation had come at the right time when Government was working on strengthening wildlife protection and conservation in the country’s two major parks – Hwange and Mana Pools.
“The procurement of these items would not have come at a better time than this one considering that both Government and players in the wildlife sector are confronted with a myriad of challenges which need to be addressed urgently, said Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri.
“Our conservation efforts are under threat from increased poaching, illegal trade, international restrictions and reduced community benefits from wildlife. These challenges have been exacerbated by our limitation as Government to adequately monitor and enforce wildlife regulations due to limited resources and manpower.”
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said Government had since embarked on the implementation of short-term plans in stamping out the rampant poaching activities and addressing the critical issues at CAMPFIRE.
Mr Huang said his country was committed to combating poaching and enhancing conservation efforts. “Wildlife is important to all of us,” he said. “I hope this equipment will go a long way in helping to conserve wildlife in Zimbabwe. Wildlife is an important part of the living things and natural ecological systems on earth.
“By donating this equipment, China is expressing its goodwill to co-operate with our Zimbabwean brothers and sisters to ensure the survival and prosperity of wildlife here.”