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SOS Rhino : In the News : Rising Poaching Undermines Case At Cites
 

Rising Poaching Undermines Case At Cites

 

Zimbabwe Independent (Harare)
January 17, 2003
Ndamu Sandu

LAST week's poaching of four black rhinos in an Intensive Protection Zone in the Sinamatela area of Hwange National Park will further undermine government's sta-nding in regard to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites).


Conservation sources this week blamed the poaching on illegal settlers and bemoaned the lax security in the area, which is supposed to be highly-protected.


Mines, Environment and Tourism minister Francis Nhema confirmed the poaching when contacted for comment.


" I can confirm that the four rhinos were killed by poachers whom we are hot on the trail of," Nhema said.


He however dis-missed suggest-ions that security was lax in the area.


" Poachers can hit whether there is security or not," he said.
Government's relations with Cites have been frosty since 1998/99 after the envi-ronmental bodyrefused to down-list elephants from Appendix Ito II, to enable trade in ivory. Government on the other hand has been demanding the right to trade in ivory saying the increase in the number of elephants and rhino was decimating forests.


Elephant and rhino horns are the main targets of poachers.
The latest poaching incident flies in the face of a government policy document promoting sustainable wildlife management as an integral part of the land reform programme.


The Zimbabwe Independent revealed last year that poaching in Lowveld conservancies had destroyed 60% of the wildlife.


Settlers have taken up plots in conservancies which were created to protect endangered species. Game has also been under siege on resettled farms.


The government document was crafted in July by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management in tandem with two internationally-recognised wildlife conservation groups.


It is estimated that 50% of Zimbabwe's wildlife has been poached in the last two years, which has cost the country at least $6 billion in lost tourism and Safari revenues.


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