New law to protect wildlife on cards

04 Aug, 2016 - 00:08 0 Views

The Herald

Tendai Mugabe : Senior Reporter

Government is working on a Statutory Instrument to protect individual iconic elephants and lions as part of the country’s national heritage. Some large elephants have since been identified and they have some of the largest tusks in the world, and have roamed the wild for not less than forty years. Such exceptional effort in wildlife conservation is clear testimony to Zimbabwe’s commitment and investment in protecting and conserving its elephants.Yesterday, the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority held a stakeholder workshop in Harare to gather input on issues that should be included in the Statutory Instrument.

Stakeholders who attended the workshop expressed concern over naming of animals as that might dent the image of the country in the event that such animals are killed. They gave an example of Cecil the lion that was killed by an American national in the Hwange National Park and drew worldwide condemnation.

They also called for protection of hunters by the law and realignment of the proposed Statutory Instrument with the existing legal instruments that govern conservation and hunting of wildlife.

Speaking to the Herald on the sidelines of the workshop, ZimParks director general Mr Wilson Mutinhima said: “This is part of our continuous effort to regulate the hunting industry, and also it is a continuation of our efforts to conserve our resources particularly elephant population in a more sustainable manner.

“We have noticed over the years that there has not been a legal instrument to regulate hunting particularly when it comes to individual elephants that we call iconic. We have seen over the years, elephants that have developed relationships with human beings that they come and live with human beings at lodges so they have become an attraction and some of them have survived poaching in a big way.”

Mr Mutinhima said with the growth and development of the hunting industry, it is important to protect animals that are symbolic to the country’s national heritage through a piece of legislation.

“We are saying as Parks, we want to avoid the shooting of animals that are ageing, animals that are symbolic to our status,” he said.

“Why can’t we take pride in those animals so that even when visitors come in the future they will still be able to say we visited Zimbabwe this year, and that year we found this animal alive? It inspires confidence in the country.”

Mr Mutinhima said communities should derive benefits from wildlife for them to take part in conservation activities.

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