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
“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
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.