Conservancies in battle against poachers, settlers

Wildlife and vegetation are under threat in the Chiredzi district due to the influx of poachers and migration of illegal settlers, says a wildlife and environment expert.


“The depletion of wildlife and vegetation has been greatly affected by poachers who have been killing elephants and rhino for their ivory and horns,” said Dr Willie Nduku, director of Wildlife and Environment Zimbabwe, an organization that assists the government and independent agencies in tackling poaching.

He said lions, zebras, leopards and cheetahs had not been spared as their skins are highly sought after.

Elephant tasks are being removed, allegedly without a parks official present, signifying an illegal kill. Eager buyers are found in the informal market.

“Should this continue unchecked, it will hinder Zimbabwe’s participation in the Great Limpopo Trans-frontier Park, thus robbing the country of a much-needed boost in tourism,” said Nduku.

WEZ is striving to establish who is really benefiting from the illegal trade.

Another threat has emerged in recent years from the surrounding community. People have begun invading the conservation area, killing elephants and antelopes for sustenance and meat to sell.

“Most interestingly, some of them have even resorted to capturing animals such as crocodiles and lions and domesticating them,” said Nduku. People have also started growing crops such as maize and cotton, irrespective of the fact that the land has been identified for wildlife purposes and is unsuitable for agriculture.

To pave way for their farming activities, occupants are burning vegetation that serves as food for wildlife. This has led to an increase in veldfires.

Nduku said the Gonarezhou, Save and Chiredzi River conservancies waged an on-going battle to keep surrounding occupants out of the nationally protected areas.

“We have appealed to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Management and the Environmental Management Agency for assistance,” he said.

Post published in: Environment

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