BULAWAYO - Oxford University Wildlife Conservation Unit’s study of a pride of lions at the Hwange National Park has exposed double standards in human nature across the world.
The lion was killed by an American hunter on July 1.
For the purposes of study, the research team led by a David MacDonald from Oxford named the father of the lion family “Cecil” and the young brother “Jericho”. I will come to this later. Let me start in my village in Lupane that borders the Hwange National Park where the study was in progress.
I find the contribution in Parliament recently by Martin Khumalo on this matter mocking the people around the world who are mourning the killing of this lion.
This is unacceptable for a man we give so much respect and was elected by the majority in our district to speak for us in Parliament.
Khumalo is a Member of Parliament for Lupane West Constituency that borders with Hwange National Park and is home to the Gwayi Conservancy private farms that where repossessed by government from white farmers and safari operators and redistributed to new black owners, one such land where the lion was lured to and killed.
He was lamenting that the lion was killing the villager’s livestock and none had been killed since the killing of the lion hence killing it was a good riddance.
I strongly disagree with this conclusion and so do many people in my village and ward.
Khumalo knows for sure that poaching is rife in the Gwayi Conservancy and the newly-settled farmers are a part to the corrupt act of poaching.
It is well-known that for some it is their lifeline.
If the MP would just invite an arm of government to check through their business books and financial records to account for their operations, the rot that would be unearthed in that conservancy would shock the country and the world far exceeding the killing of the lion.
We would be very happy as villagers if Khumalo pushed for accountability and transparency from the new safari operators in the district of Lupane and not just to take it out on an innocent lion.
This lion has exposed the notorious practice of driving animals out of the game park to private farms and to villages by these dirty irresponsible amateur safari operators and killing them knowing very well that they are not in the hunting quota to avoid paying up for Campfire royalties to the district and villagers and taxes to government.
Ladies and gentlemen this has to stop. Let’s take our natural resources seriously for the betterment of the local villagers and we expect the MP to be on the forefront on this.
Some people behave like wildlife is their private property just because it is in their farm.
No, it is not. Wildlife belongs to all of us and the rest of the world. It is why people fly from afar to come and view this wildlife.
This is why one has to get a quota to hunt and kill, even if it is within your private or communal land. No hunting quota, no killing of wild animals by anyone Khumalo. No excuses on that regulation. Period!
Khumalo, your great, great grandfather King Mzilikazi Khumalo founder of the Ndebele nation and his Council of Chiefs passed a regulation during their time to say that whoever went for a hunt and killed a female animal, worse if it was pregnant would be executed.
During the season when wildlife was mating no hunting was permitted in the kingdom.
Do you think he was silly by endorsing such a regulation?
Or you take him for a savage for sentencing such offenders to death? Or do you think lions that time did not kill livestock and humans? Hunting regulations and the protection of wildlife is not a new thing in Africa.
Information surrounding the killing of this lion points to the fact that this was not a hunt but an act of corruption and bribery.
I will start with the prize of the trophy. If it is true that the going price of a lion trophy is that high, over $30 000 then God save Zimbabwe because we have no reason to have local people in the province of Matabeleland North sinking in poverty.
We need some transparency here, given the number of people that come to Zimbabwe for a hunting sport. If a wildlife trophy can generate that much money then we have no excuse as to why companies in Bulawayo and indeed in the country are shutting down and workers thrown in the streets in their thousands.
Last time I checked the going rate of wildlife trophies of the big five where between $12 000 and $15 000. For the price that the hunter paid it is clear that he was paying for a bribe.
Two bribes in this case, one for a lion trophy after realising that no one had a hunting quota for a lion and for using an illegal hunting weapon.
Why did this hunter not check the hunting quota papers to make sure he was hunting a listed animal within the right geography given the amount of money he was parting with? Is this a stupid doctor? No ways. I will not buy that dummy.
I will not agree that this kind of operation would miss the attention of the game rangers at the National Park and Forestry Commission knowing how they operate because we live next to the park and forest lands.
This is highly unlikely. Our cattle drink from the same ponds with these wild animals and the rangers harass our cattle boys day-in -day-out.
How would they miss this act in a zone where they know there is a lion family under study?
These rangers are highly alert and well-trained. I know that for sure.
They could have been paid to look aside or be on the far end of the park during the illegal hunt.
It would not surprise me if this hunting fee was split all the way to head offices in Harare.
If this fee was not to oil hands of the whole corruption and poaching chain operation within the Parks, then I conclude Cecil’s death has exposed the inefficiency of our National Parks management in the protection of our wildlife.
What with the killing of elephants with cyanide in the not so far distant future.
If Parks claim to be clean then heads must roll in that organisation all the way from the top. In my opinion this bunch is sleeping on the job! Our animals are not safe in this country.
The killing of this lion has also exposed the naked truth that our country’s hunting industry is under threat because it is in the hands of amateur safari operators created by our land reform that has since shunned the importance of training for everyone in all the land sector settled during that period.
This is because only an uninformed ignorant fool would kill a lion with a GPS collar and get away with it.
How would you get away with it?
How would you be a safari operator and not know that in an area there is an animal under study unless if you are an ignorant one or it was deliberate?
When the killing eventually came to light the records quickly landed on Walter Palmar then to the safari operator who seem to not understand the importance of records.
Something needs to be done about this level of ignorance. Such safari operators must be weeded out of the hunting industry.
There is a reason why some of our safari operators are exhibiting this level of ignorance and why even our Member of Parliament thinks this lion is just another lion that deserved to be killed.
What was the reason behind it being called “Cecil”?
The naming of the lion is a reflection of who is studying the animal and where the knowledge about the lion family of Zimbabwe is going to and for whose benefit it will be used. For the benefit of a study it is correct that the lion had to be given a name.
But to come all the way from England that was once a colonial master of Zimbabwe and from Oxford for that matter and name the lion in Zimbabwe “Cecil” is the highest insult to the Ndebele people and the rest of Zimbabwe by MacDonald, his research unit and the Oxford staff included.
They know very well that we had to change colonial names such as Cecil Avenue so that our people can forget about the nasty episodes of colonialism, yet these scholars find it normal to come and name our lion in our park a name that has a nasty national memory for us.
Why Cecil out of all the names from England!
Is it a coincidence that the lion is called Cecil by a unit from Oxford a university that gets serious funding for advancing academic excellence from Cecil John Rhodes who looted the Ndebele Kingdom to poverty?
Is this lion not a big thank you to Cecil John Rhodes for driving our people to poverty?
Looting their cattle, grain, land and minerals and going to invest it in South Africa only to bring to us in Matabeleland his bones to marvel at? Is this not this Cecil legacy that Oxford is celebrating?
If this is not so then tell us how many students that come from Matabeleland are part of this Cecil study? These are our lions.
We stay with them and we need to know about their lives and behaviour better than anyone in the world.
We have not heard anyone from our district of Lupane say they are back from Oxford and are at the Park studying the lions.
MacDonald and his tribe reward each other with good money and come down to our jungles to extract all the knowledge and information from our natural resources and steal it to Oxford, England so that we the locals can never have access to it and remain ignorant for life like the safari operator and his friends. Is this not the same old story of how Europe underdeveloped Africa?
I have no doubt now that Oxford is an institution run by who are fool of selfishness, greed and double standards. Who pay themselves to sneak to our province, steal all the knowledge for themselves deliberately excluding our children for the benefit of their children supported by the Rhodes Trust built out of the looting of our country.
All of Oxford staff is silent about redistributing the Trust Fund for the benefit of building secondary school science labs in Matabeleland to further the academic excellence of our secondary school children so that they can at least have grades to attend university.
Investing in education in the land where Cecil John Rhodes’s bones are is only fair but noone even speaks up about this.
The world is silent until the lion accidentally dies. Then the world speaks up loud.
Half a million is collected in less than a week. And oh yes even a statue will be built at Oxford! Yes the world is full of people with double standards.
What is the interest of studying to protect and conserve our animals whilst excluding our children who stay with these animals?
Was this an honest study in the first place? I wonder.
Are the scholars at Oxford not part of the conspiracy in killing this animal so that they could use it for drumming up global awareness to further their dubious agendas?
Someone in the wildlife conservation unit in Oxford, especially MacDonald has some explaining to do.
All having been said Oxford must share with our children in the province all the knowledge learnt about our lions. It is where the information and knowledge is needed more than anywhere else.
This exploitation and marginalisation of our people because they are poor and stay in rural villages has to stop!
Those cubs are now orphans and they should be moved to Chipangali Wild Life Orphanage in Bulawayo by both the Parks and Oxford University urgently and support them from there.
Why are they not being moved swiftly when we all know what will happen to them if left in the Park.
Why the study, if we are not going to rescue the young ones who at this stage are defenseless?
Is letting the cubs die part of the Oxford study or is someone just sleeping on the job again?
Its double standards everywhere!