Save the Elephants/Daily News (Zimbabwe)
John Kachembere, The Daily News
April 9, 2018
HARARE: The European Union (EU) has injected close to $2 million into
Zimbabwe aimed at reducing poaching and conserving wildlife.
African Wildlife Foundation senior communications officer Grace Wairima
said the funding will be used for improved anti-poaching and compatible
land use in community lands of the Lower Zambezi, Mana Pools Transboundary
Conservation Area (LZMP-TFCA).
“The overall objective of this three-year project is to reduce illegal
wildlife trade and habitat conversion in the LZMP TFCA by establishing
models for strengthened community engagement in sustainable natural
resource management, anti-poaching efforts and integrated land use that
ensures conservation and compatible land uses,” she said.
“The project will deliver on this overall objective by incentivising
fishers to cooperate with wildlife authorities along the Zambezi River to
stop wildlife crime by improving their governance and fishing practices,”
Wairima told The Financial Gazette.
This comes as AWF is helping to organise an anti-poaching rapid-response
unit in the area and has also facilitated joint patrols between Zimbabwean
and Zambian authorities on the Zambezi River, the first-ever joint patrols
in the area.
For decades, poaching has been a thorny issue for Zimbabwe and many other
African countries. The rampant illegal killing of big game is threatening
the survival of several species; and wildlife crime is on the rise due to
an increased demand for illegally acquired ivory.
Poaching is rife in national parks such as Hwange, Gonarezhou, Save
Conservancy and the Zambezi Valley, all home to over 84,500 elephants.
Recently, the Zimbabwe Republic Police launched an investigation into
former first lady Grace Mugabe over allegations that she headed a poaching
and smuggling syndicate which illegally exported tonnes of elephant tusks,
gold, and diamonds from the country.
Wairima said the funding from the EU will also be used to provide community
scouts in Mbire District the same training parks rangers receive and
facilitating joint patrols to better secure community areas.
“We are also hoping to slow deforestation by engaging the private sector
and communities to codevelop demand-driven solutions to threats from
tobacco curing and uncontrolled expansion of cultivation,” she said.
The project also aims at initiating the development of a Communal Wildlife
Conservancy to secure corridors for wildlife movement and reducing human
wildlife conflict by working with communities to replicate existing
mitigation best practices among other things.
Kaddu Sebunya, the AWF president said there was an urgent need to protect
wildlife and wild lands, not only in Zimbabwe but in Africa, which are
facing extinction due to rampant poaching and rapid human settlement
“Africa has never been in a better place than it is today, with the longest
unbroken period of peace and progress ever, despite the extreme
difficulties some countries still face. Our continent is currently
undergoing an unprecedented and rapid transformation as a result of high
economic growth rates,” he said.
Sebunya indicated that new infrastructure developments, extractive
industries, urbanisation, and other economic activities are transforming
Africa towards the development state.
“The bad news is that while this transformation is positively impacting
economic development and quality of life of Africans, in many cases it is
stealing from our future. The ecological infrastructure of Africa which is
the foundation that provides goods and services that support economic
development and high quality of life is being exploited unsustainably. If
this development is not managed well the future is not very good,” he added.