The independent Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force appealed in its latest
monthly bulletin for more action – and money – to preserve the troubled
In Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown, "humans are encroaching more and more into
areas previously reserved for wildlife," the task force said.
As many as 400 elephants have crossed the Zambezi River, which separates
Zambia from northern Zimbabwe, in recent months, said Johnny Rodrigues, head
of the task force.
Three elephants also roamed into the eastern border city of Mutare this
month and state wildlife authorities "want to shoot them before they kill
somebody," he said.
The task force and a Zimbabwe animal group received official authority to
capture and transport the elephants to Chipinda Pools, believed to be their
original home area 125 miles (200 kilometers) to the south.
"The problem is funding for the relocation," Rodrigues said. State game
rangers "won’t wait much longer before destroying the elephants."
In northern Harare, rangers also wanted to track and kill at least one
leopard, which also is suspected of having a cub. Rodrigues said the task
force set up drugged, baited traps for predators so they could be returned
to the wild, but none has been caught since a guard dog was attacked earlier
Tourism and photographic safaris have dropped sharply during years of
political and economic turmoil since the often violent seizures of thousands
of white-owned farms began in 2000, disrupting the agriculture-based economy
in the former regional breadbasket.
Longtime ruler President Robert Mugabe blames Western sanctions for the
economic crisis that has led to acute shortages of food, gasoline and the
most basic goods.
Poaching of small animals has intensified, with villagers torching the bush
to drive even rodents and rock rabbits into traps for food, conservationists
Rodrigues said more animal fencing was needed at wildlife preserves to
combat poaching and the escape of animals from their natural habitat after
being made skittish by gunfire.
Conservationists already have raised the alarm for Zimbabwe’s rare rhinos
after a sharp increase in poaching over the past year because of a breakdown
of law enforcement in the country.
The head of the state Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, Morris
Mtsambiwa, told state media Monday that his nation faced censure from CITES,
which regulates trade in endangered species, for the surge in rhino poaching
blamed on "well-coordinated local, regional and international syndicates."
He said one rhino poacher, identified as a former Zimbabwean army officer
equipped with a heavy caliber rifle, was shot and killed by rangers in
southern Zimbabwe last week. The poacher’s accomplices escaped.
"Rhino poaching is now becoming a very serious problem for us. We now have
to answer serious questions at CITES," he said.
Associated Press (AP)Post published in: News