The Financial Gazette – South Africa
The government’s plan to grow food crops using irrigation
in Masvingo could result in the loss of a wildlife sanctuary that
week said could be ploughed through as part of the project, scaring off foreign
hunters who are tomorrow expected to bid for hunting concessions at the park.
Under the Nuanetsi irrigation project, the government has contracted
a Chinese company to develop 100 000 hectares of land in a deal
it says will lead to
Zimbabwe, facing severe food shortages, being restored as southern Africa’s
Environmentalists said Hurungwe Safari Area, located in the
lower Zambezi valley, could be affected by the project and in fact officials
of the District
Fund and Agricultural Development Authority had set up a base in the safari
The two government-controlled departments are spearheading ploughing
under the Nuanetsi project.
Sources said a manager had already been deployed to the area in
preparation for ploughing and planting, despite objections from
the Department of National
Parks and Wildlife Management Authority base station in Marongora.
Hurungwe Safari Area, a sanctuary for several wild animals including
cheetahs, leopards, elephants and black rhino, is under the management
of the National
Environment and Tourism Minister Francis Nhema confirmed that
his ministry had been warned of the danger to the wildlife sanctuary.
He told the Financial Gazette: "I have heard about it, someone
called me on the issue. I am told that there is a farm located
in that area, maybe
that is where they want to plant.
"I have since asked for maps from National Parks to see if
the parks area is being affected."
He said he would take "appropriate
action" once he was satisfied
that the area that would be affected by the irrigation project was part
of the National Parks.
He said: "We do not want to make noise
about it then at the end of the day this place turns out not to
be a national parks area."
But officials with the National
Parks, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they were concerned
that the presence of agricultural
at Hurungwe Safari Area could affect the sale of hunting concessions,
They said foreign hunters would want to be taken around
the sanctuary for onsite inspections and they might be put off
by the presence of the
The National Parks officials said if the safari area was affected
by the irrigation project, it would be another blow for wildlife
the Zambezi valley,
which have been hit by a spate of invasions by landless peasants.
said many of the settlers had begun planting crops on parks set
aside for wildlife.
"Several places such as Chiufe area that is located in the
Charara estates have been affected by people settling themselves
where they want," said one
"There are also people from Hurungwe area who have resettled themselves
illegally in the national parks area. Now we are being told that Hurungwe Safari
has to be ploughed for the Mashonaland West food initiative."
He added: "Every time we raise these issues of people settling
themselves in our weekly meetings, we are told this is a politically
which can only be solved by politicians."
industry is estimated to have lost more than $6 billion and 50
percent of its wild animals through poaching in the past two years,
which has been worsened by the invasion of white-owned farms by
ZANU PF supporters.
Some villagers who were carried away by the
euphoria of the land invasions settled themselves in wildlife
areas, causing damage
to habitat that
environmentalists say could take more than a decade to restore.