220 poachers arrested, Parly told
legislators heard yesterday.
The poachers killed 146 wildlife, among them 23 elephants in the same park during the same period.
Parks and Wildlife Management Authority director general Mr Vitalis Chadenga yesterday presented a report to the Portfolio Committee on Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism outlining poaching challenges at the Hwange National Park.
The committee is chaired by Tsholotsho South legislator Mr Maxwell Dube (MDC). Among the poached wildlife are 30 impalas, 30 warthogs, 19 buffaloes, 17 kudus and 12 zebras.
“Parkwide, a total of 325 incursions were detected which resulted in 430 visual contacts and 14 armed contacts with poachers,” said Mr Chadenga.
“Four poachers were killed, six were wounded and 221 arrested. Over 2 300 snares were removed and 35 dogs were killed.
“37 pieces of ivory, 22 rifles, four rhino horns and 364 rounds of ammunition were recovered.”
Turning to the heatwave, Mr Chadenga said there were 51 functional water pumps in the park which use diesel, solar and windmills to draw water from the wells.
He said 40 of the pumps consumed about 20 000 litres of diesel per month which translated to 80 000 litres from August to November when artificial game water is required.
Mr Chadenga urged Government to stop resettling people in areas reserved for wildlife. He said resettling people in wildlife areas will result in human-wildlife conflicts.
“The challenge we have is the settlement patterns in conservancies where in some areas we have some people practicing incompatible land use in wildlife areas,” Mr Chadenga said.
“There are thousands of people settling in areas for wildlife. There is lack of syncronisation of what is going on and what we recommend.
“It becomes a political issue which is beyond the control of the authority . . . there is need for political will.”
Mr Chadenga said there was need for the Government to respect the wildlife-based land reform policy.
He said there was need for people to co-exist with dangerous animals like lions. Mr Chadenga said the problem of dangerous animals attacking people and livestock had been caused by resettling people in areas meant for wildlife. He said it was actually the people who were intruding in wildlife zones. Mr Chadenga said the authority was ready to intervene in areas where dangerous animals break out from the parks. The committee asked Mr Chadenga why they had given wildlife farmers 25-year leases when it takes about 30 years for a wildlife farmer to realise profits.
All things being equal, Mr Chadenga said, 25 years were enough for farmers to realise profits from wildlife.
The committee said it would help if the authority could give the farmers 99-year leases like those for crop farmers. Mr Chadenga said the intention of giving new wildlife farmers 25-year leases was meant to rotate control over wildlife.
He said improving them to 50-year leases would be the only viable way.
Mr Chadenga said the authority sold animals worth about US$250 000 in the past three years.