Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
The European Union Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Phillipe Van Damme, yesterday agreed to work with the country’s traditional chiefs to ensure that the proposed ban of trophy hunting by the European Parliament is not passed into law.
The chiefs argue that the ban, proposed by the EU Parliament recently, does not have legal standing.
Yesterday members of the Zimbabwe Council of Chiefs met Ambassador Van Damme, who agreed to convince the EU Parliament that sustainable trophy hunting was possible in Zimbabwe and there was no need for such a law.
Speaking after meeting Mr Van Damme, president of the ZCC Chief Fortune Charumbira said the traditional leaders were happy that the EU community in Zimbabwe now shared the same concerns with Zimbabweans.
“We met the ambassador and his team and we are very happy to say that they are actually singing from the same page with us. We shared same concerns, and we are going to work as a team to ensure that we impress it upon the European Union parliamentarians that such a move will be very unfair to the communities in Zimbabwe and also will cause unnecessary suffering to the people of Zimbabwe. That motion should not be adopted in the European Parliament.
“We also discussed other issues that improve management of trophy hunting and revenues therefrom. It was a good meeting of people who think alike,” he said.
Chief Charumbira said the main issue was the impending ban of trophy hunting by the European Community, which he said would result in the suffering of communities as revenue generated was used to develop infrastructure and help vulnerable communities in Zimbabwe.
“Yes, we do agree that there are one or two areas where trophy hunting funds are not managed properly and communities are not getting enough, but that is a management issue which we believe we are resolving with the Environment, Water and Climate Minister (Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri),” he said.
He said they agreed on measures that needed to be taken to make sure that communities benefited from wildlife like the case of Mbire where revenue went directly to the communities.
Mr Van Damme said the EU was considering raising a motion questioning the relevance and sustainability of wildlife management of trophy hunting.
“The traditional chiefs have briefed us on the position of trophy hunting in Zimbabwe. We have, of course, discussed this issue with Government and other stakeholders, conservancies and parks (Parks and Wildlife Management Authority of Zimbabwe) so that Zimbabwe can build a case to explain why trophy hunting can be sustainable and beneficial for the communities.
“We are looking at how we can inform the European Parliament on sustainable and beneficial trophy hunting in Zimbabwe so that they can understand the full picture of what trophy hunting is all about. This motion, which has been tabled in the parliament, is not targeting Zimbabwe in particular. This is a general motion on policies regarding trophy hunting,” he said.
He said the EU community in Zimbabwe was on the same page with the chiefs and was of the view that trophy hunting could be perfectly justified and be sustainable as well as become a beneficial wildlife policy.
Mr Van Damme urged Zimbabwe to fully comply with international standards regarding wildlife trade in order to win the confidence of the international community.