Lawrence Chitumba and Talent Chimutambgi
ZIMBABWE’s wildlife is under threat from poachers sponsored by criminal syndicates operating in and outside the country who use cyanide to poison the animals, a senior Government official has said.
Officially launching “The Elephant Dress” in support of wildlife on Monday in Harare, Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said illegal hunting had resulted in the loss of at least 235 elephants in and outside the parks estates between 2013 and 2015.
“Chief among the challenges is the continued illegal hunting of key species, including elephants for their ivory and rhinos for their horns,” she said.
“Poachers have devised a new silent method that involves the use of chemical poisons such as cyanide.
“This new method of poaching has resulted in the loss of 235 elephants in and outside the parks estates between 2013 and 2015.”
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said despite the efforts by law enforcement and achievements made in terms of arrests, recoveries and seizure, the threat of wildlife poaching and illegal trade in its products remained high.
She said in the past, commercial poaching of wildlife was restricted to foreign poachers, but in recent years the involvement of locals in wildlife poaching and trafficking had increased.
“A total of 9 487 locals have been arrested for various wildlife offences from 2011 to 2015,” said Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri.
“Information at hand indicates that some members of the communities are involved in harbouring poachers and providing information to poachers as well as carrying out the poaching themselves.”
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said the nation was concerned with veld fires which had remained a serious scourge to the environment.
“Fires have left large tracts of land destroyed,” she said.
“Human life and property are also lost in the process during the dry season every year.
“I urge all Zimbabweans to be conscious and not cause veld fires, especially during the drought years such as the current one being experienced.”
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said conserving natural resources was one such expensive move which required more funds.
She said the financial situation was worsened by the suspension of imports of hunted elephant trophies into the United States of America and hunted lions into Australia.