Poachers decimate Zim elephants

HARARE - Elephant population in northern Zimbabwe’s Sebungwe District has declined by 75 percent due to poaching in the last decade, a wildlife conservation group Bumi Hills Foundation (BHF) has said.

BHF — a non-profit organisation based in Kariba — said poaching was wreaking havoc in wildlife sanctuaries and hunting reserves.

“Just 10 years ago there were 15 000 elephants living in the Sebungwe region. As a result of poaching there are just 3 500 left today,” the Foundation said.

“We need to reverse this trend in 2017. As a result of the escalating levels of wildlife poaching in the Zambezi Valley areas, there has — in recent years — been a huge increase in the number of individual organisations working to combat the threats and to assist the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority to carry out their mandate of protecting the nation’s natural areas and the wildlife within them,” BHF said.

Zimbabwe’s elephant population is estimated to be around 82 630.

Government says the country’s current stockpile of ivory weighs about 70 tonnes and is worth approximately $35 million.

Officials contend that if sold, the money generated will plug a huge financial hole.

Zimbabwe had hoped to be allowed to sell its ivory stockpiles to raise badly-needed funds for conservation.

However, its efforts hit a brick wall at the recent 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to Cites in South Africa.

The global conference that governs wildlife trade voted overwhelmingly in two secret ballots against the proposal.

Environment minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri did not hide her frustration over what she viewed as a “punishment” for the country’s “good conservation deeds”.

Muchinguri-Kashiri had hoped to be allowed to sell ivory stockpiles to raise badly-needed funds for conservation.

“…keeping this resource in our armoury which is very expensive and also taking care of this wildlife which is also expecting us to put in resources which are in our armoury, we feel that’s unfair,” Muchinguri-Kashiri said then.

“Each country has their sovereign rights and people make choices but what we don’t appreciate is those same countries trying to impose their choices on us because we have done so well,” she said.

Muchinguri-Kashiri felt that trade bans were futile and have in the past not prevented species from extinction.

However, Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force chairman Johnny Rodrigues is adamant that there is need to close ivory “trade and penalise the importing countries (or else) these majestic animals are going to be extinct in the next ten years.”

Still, others believe countries sitting on healthy ivory stockpiles should be allowed to trade legally to dampen the demand for poached tusks.

A recent report by African Elephant Status Report noted that Zimbabwe’s total elephant population had declined by 9 000 but remained relatively stable amid a surge in poaching.

The report put Africa’s elephant population at around 415 000, a decline of around 111 000 over the past decade.

Comments (3)

STOP THE KILLING OF THESE BEAUTIFUL ELEPHANTS , BEFORE ITS TO LATE!!!!

marisol - 4 January 2017

Bring back Rhodesia.

Kevin - 4 January 2017

'Decimate' means to reduce by ten percent.

citizen - 6 January 2017

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