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Rhino News : Rhinos fall victim to Zim chaos
Rhinos fall victim to Zim chaos
|| Mail & Guardian on-line
Published: 1 September 2002 07:00
Zimbabwe's wildlife is threatened by poaching and thirst
A herd of about 30 black rhinos is in desperate trouble in Zimbabwe after
war veterans invaded the game farm where they live.
Though poaching is a threat, thirst may kill them first. Richard Pascal,
owner of the confiscated land, is worried about their water supply.
War veterans occupied the farm in February and stopped Pascal operating
the pump that supplied the rhinos with water. One died soon afterwards.
Pascal, a renowned black rhino conservationist, was forced to leave his
farm in April. In June he successfully challenged his eviction in court and
the government withdrew its case to expropriate his farm.
Despite the verdict, the invaders and Zanu-PF youth brigade members have
warned the Pascals they will be murdered if they return to their farm.
"We are not allowed to go near our farm. The government sent a task force
to politely ask the war veterans to move, but they declined the invitation.
Nothing has happened since then," said Carol Pascal, Richard's wife.
"The last we saw of our farm was on April 6. We have had to rely on word
of mouth for news about our farm and the rhinos. A reliable source told us
that four of the rhinos have moved on to the neighbouring farm, Gwizzaan.
No other rhinos have been spotted.
"The fence that separates the two farms was pulled down by the war
veterans so they could water their cattle on Gwizzaan. This means that
there may be no water left on our farm. I don't know where the rhinos are
getting water. Even if we wanted to go and take back our farm we were
warned by the government not to cause a national incident because it
would mean more bad publicity for Zimbabwe."
She says: "We've heard that the state governor of the north of
Matebeleland, Obert Mpofu, is interested in acquiring the farm."
The Pascals bought the game farm 15 years ago. The farm, situated at
Turk Mine in the Bubi district of north Matebeleland, was once a world
leader in rhino conservation.
The dead rhino became a sensitive matter between Pascal and the
settlers. Pascal called in National Parks officials to collect the horn. This
upset the settlers, who wanted to collect the trophy for themselves.
On April 6 Pascal was arrested for attempted murder after he allegedly
shot at the veterans who allegedly assaulted him during a protest on his
farm. He was also accused by Chief Inspector Tarwireyi Tirivavi of the
Zimbabwe police of setting the farm's ostriches on the war veterans.
The attempted murder case will be heard on November 12. Meanwhile he
has been forbidden from setting foot on his property.