In a move that has been recommended by Convention on International Trade and Endangered Species (CITES), Japanese ambassador, Toshiyuki Iwado handed over a strategic Anti-Poaching Operations Centre located in the Chewore Safari Area.
“The centre serves as a post for field rangers conducting operations, and has significantly strengthened the Wildlife Management Authority’s capacity to address current and emerging threats impacting this important site of the CITES ‘MIKE’ programme to monitor levels of illegal killing of elephants.”
The Chewore Safari Area, a World Heritage Site, is one of the last truly wild ecosystems left in the world.
Chewore faces a real threat from poaching and, in recent years, elephants have come under increasing pressure.
In 2016, seven elephants were poached between January and July in this area alone.
“The capability of the Zimbabwe authorities in keeping surveillance over, and preventing elephant poaching in the area has been enhanced through the establishment of the Centre, allowing for better and more secure planning and management of patrol activities by the rangers,” CITES’ said in a statement.
Speaking at the handover ceremony, Japan Ambassador to Zimbabwe said the Asian giant is committed to conservation.
“The illegal wildlife trade is an urgent global issue. Japan is deeply committed to the cause of protecting elephants from atrocious acts by international criminal organizations and others.
“Thus, Japan attaches great importance to supporting range states, such as Zimbabwe, in the fight against elephant poaching, including through the assistance via the CITES MIKE Programme”, said Mr. Iwado.
“Japan continues to make utmost efforts in implementing the trade control of ivory under CITES, and to work together with our international partners to tackle the problem of elephant poaching.”
The Anti-poaching Operations Centre was established at a cost of USD 60,000. It has been operational since October 2017.
Receiving the donation, Zimparks Director Conservation Arthur Musakwa said; “Today we are witnessing an initiative that demonstrates the importance of collaborative work and all interested parties are bringing to conservation. This facility we are celebrating today plays an important role in easing patrol operations in the sub-region.”