Govt criticised for ‘hypocrisy’ over Transfrontier Conservation Park

Zimbabwe‘s government is facing criticism for a display of ‘hypocrisy’, after signing off on the country’s involvement in a transfrontier conservation area this week.

Five Southern African nations, including Zimbabwe, have agreed to form the world’s largest international conservation area, with the aim of protecting the area’s wildlife. At a ceremony in Namibia on Thursday government ministers from Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe signed off on a cross-border treaty, set to combine 36 nature preserves and surrounding areas.

Called the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA), the site includes the Victoria Falls World Heritage site in Zimbabwe and Botswana’s famed swampland of the Okavango Delta.

This is not the first transfrontier conservation initiative Zimbabwe has been involved in, as already the Gonarezhou National Park forms part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area, which includes South Africa and Mozambique.

Johnny Rodrigues, the chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF), told SW Radio Africa on Friday that in principle the transfrontier initiatives are a good idea. But he explained there is a huge problem with no one trying to follow up on the laws that are supposed to govern the running of the areas.

“On paper, I’m all for it. The problem is that on paper people are signing up to a set of laws. But is it being enforced? That’s the question,” Rodrigues said.

The ZCTF chairman used last year’s spate of elephant killings at the Gonarezhou National Park as an example of this, explaining how no laws were enforced to prevent the slaughter of the elephants and other animals in this conservation area.

Rodrigues also agreed with criticism voiced by observers that Zimbabwean authorities are being hypocritical, especially because “there seems to be no one able to enforce the laws that are in place to protect the animals.”

Zimbabwe’s National Parks Authority has been slammed for its involvement in recent elephant killings, after it emerged that Parks staff killed three of the animals within a conservancy last month. The employees from Chipinda Pools went to Chiredzi River Conservancy last month and shot three elephants, including two lactating cows and one young bull. It brings to seven the number of elephants killed in the Conservancy in the past month, where the elephant numbers are dwindling.

Rodrigues said that the Park staff are working with illegal land invaders, who have all but taken over the Chiredzi River Conservancy. He explained that the invaders are deliberately trying to get rid of the wildlife there, to make way for farming.

He said on Friday that until the rule of law is restored in all Zimbabwean sectors, there is not much hope that conservation efforts will be ass successful as they could be.

“Whenever you have this kind of turmoil, the law just disappears. And honestly I think the future looks very bleak for Zimbabwe’s wildlife,” Rodrigues said. SW Radio Africa

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