Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
GOVERNMENT is concerned about wildlife deaths in the country’s game parks due to the effects of drought as this is likely to negatively affect the tourism sector, which is largely hinged on wildlife.
Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister, Mangaliso Ndlovu, told wildlife experts and conservationists at the recent 17th African Wildlife Consultative Forum here that the country needs investment into biodiversity and conservation. He challenged wildlife activists worldwide who are against trade in wildlife products to invest in wildlife management.
“Wildlife is the cornerstone for tourism, contributing significantly to the national economy and Zimbabwe is making efforts to develop and mainstream biodiversity in its socio-economic agenda,” said Minister Ndlovu.
He said Zimbabwe has witnessed an increase in the number of species that are facing extinction in other countries such as rhinos, pangolins and elephants. Zimbabwe has a combined 92 000 elephants and rhinos in the country’s parks, said Minister Ndlovu.
This, he said, calls for investment in water sources to prevent death, as the country has recorded deaths of 85 elephants due to drought since September.
“Wildlife conservation to us has come at a huge cost as we fight poaching, smuggling and fighting animal activists who make noise about wildlife management. I appeal to all those concerned about the welfare of animals to come forward and save our wildlife,” he said.
“I would like to appeal to colleagues who are crafting legislation prohibiting sale or restricting or banning importation of our trophies to come to our parks in Southern Africa and see the population with their own eyes.”
The minister was referring to a ban in trade in wildlife products imposed by the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) on wildlife products. Sadc is seeking to come up with a common position on the matter. Regional heads of states recently resolved that wildlife management should be scientific and called on Cites to make decisions based on science.
Minister Ndlovu said the war with Cites rages on as the Sadc countries argue that Cites convention be aligned with international agreements.
There are concerns that Cites is captured by non-state actors such as wildlife non-governmental organisations.
As such, Minister Ndlovu challenged the NGOs to invest money for biodiversity protection. The conference was organised by Safari Club International Foundation. Among topical agenda issues was the need to capacitate communities through Campfire, where Zimbabwe has reportedly made great strides as 50 percent of Campfire funds are directed to communities where hundreds of thousands of people are benefiting. — @ncubeleon