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SOS Rhino : In the News : Wildlife industry loses 70% of its animals

Wildlife industry loses 70% of its animals


Staff Reporter
Financial Gazette
South Africa
3/27/03 11:26:53 AM

ZIMBABWE’S wildlife industry has lost at least 70 percent of its animals to poaching in the past two years and its remaining wildlife could be wiped out unless comprehensive measures are adopted to resolve the crisis, a local environmental group said this week.

Officials with Wildlife and Environment Zimbabwe (WEZ), formerly the Wildlife Association of Zimbabwe, said statistics collected by one of the country’s largest conservancies, Bubiana, indicated that local game ranches were battling a serious crisis.

They said the figures showed that at least 70 percent of wildlife had been lost to poaching since the end of 2001.
Bubiana conservancy, an intensive breeding area for the endangered black rhino, alone lost 362 animals in the past 21 months because of poaching, which has intensified since the start of the invasion of white-owned farms by war veterans in 2000.

The land invasions resulted in some villagers moving onto wildlife sanctuaries, worsening poaching, which has been a problem for game ranches for several years.

Guy Hilton Barber, a member of WEZ, said the loss of animals through poaching translated into “millions of dollars”.

WEZ officials said to curb poaching, the Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources initiative, game ranchers and conservancies should form anti-poaching units to curb the loss of animals.

“To be effective, the units would need to become honorary officers of the National Parks Authority (NPA),” said WEZ public relations officer Shirley Silversides.

“They can then be covered by the legal instruments which give security officers power to confront poachers. Once such units are formed, it is suggested they should apply to the NPA for honorary membership,” she added.
WEZ officials said failure to adequately deal with the problem could result in the remaining 30 percent of the country’s wildlife being “wiped out”.

“Help is required to protect wildlife not only in parks but the whole country,” Silversides said.

Although WEZ could this week not provide statistics of how much the loss of wildlife had cost Zimbabwe, some environmental experts have estimated that the country has lost more than $6 billion worth of animals in the past two years.

The country’s wildlife industry is a major foreign currency earner through the sale of animal products as well as hunting and photographic safaris.

Environmentalists say it will take several years for the industry to regain resources lost through poaching and as a result of the land invasions, which led to the clearing of vegetation and tree felling by villagers and war veterans as they built their homesteads.

Tree felling and the clearing of vegetation has resulted in habitat loss and is expected to cause soil erosion in some areas and other environmental problems that will cost the country a large amount of money to repair.

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