Elephant activist calls it a day

A voluntary Australia elephant activist who has been running the “Presidential Elephant Conservation Project” in Hwange estate for 13 years has decided to throw in the towel and leave the country citing frustrations in her work.

Sharon Pincott: bitter and wearied by battle on behalf of Presidential herd.
Sharon Pincott: bitter and wearied by battle on behalf of Presidential herd.

Sharon Pincott has been actively involved in the protection, monitoring and promotion of a unique clan of over 500 wild African elephants that roam freely on unfenced land adjoining Hwange National Park Main Camp and Kanondo state land.

According to the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF) the Kanondo area was recently reclaimed by a woman called Elisabeth Freeman whose brother is a hunter in the Matetsi area. “Sharon is very concerned that the Presidential Elephants will now become the target of hunters. We are disgusted that Elisabeth Freeman has been allowed to claim this land,” said Johnny Rodrigues, ZCTF chairman.

Pincott, who has sacrificed a lot for the welfare of the elephants, said her numerous efforts to protect and promote the animals have been frustrated by the government‘s failure to act on illegal land invasions in the area.

“I cannot allow myself to be linked to such new depths of collusion and cluelessness. I cannot keep hitting my head against a brick wall, year after year with lack of care and lack of respect and understanding of these elephants growing and growing despite all the efforts. Any level of trust and respect that I might have once had is now completely shattered,” said Pincott.

Pincott said while President Robert Mugabe proclaimed and reaffirmed his patronage of the special elephants 21 years ago, it was ironic that government officials were responsible for destroying the flagship herd.

She once proposed the establishment of a “Presidential Park” in order to curb poaching but the then minister of Environment, Francis Nhema, rejected the proposal. “Under Nhema’s watch, large areas were snatched and underhand hunting activities went on and on,” she alleged. “When further land claim problems resurfaced in early 2013, Nhema was too busy electioneering to help with my pleas.”

When Saviour Kasukuwere was appointed Minister of Environment Water and Climate last year, the appointment initially brought hope but the situation soon worsened. “The minister initially brought with him a ray of hope that things might now improve for the better but sadly that did not last for long, due to his limited understanding of the Presidential Elephants and the real issues surrounding them. The minister has become suspiciously quiet with regards to the state-owned Kanondo land grab,” added Pincott. She said Kanondo land, which was once invaded by former Mines Minister Obert Mpofu before his eviction from the property in 2005, has been reinvaded by settlers who had turned the land into pockets of maize fields.

“How else did the lands ministry ever dare to allocate this land a second time and still today get away with not correcting their mistake? The government now treats this land as if it is individually owned plots to grow mealies with no regard whatsoever for the ongoing , long term welfare of these elephants as a whole ,” said Pincott. Following the new invasions, some elephants have disappeared from the area.

“Lady, one of the most renowned beasts of the herd, disappeared for good. Although her body was never found, I feel sure that she was shot. Her family is still devastated and torn apart. She was the most high–profile of many who were lost. Who will notice when others go missing in the future? The answer to that question is nobody will notice or care,” said the weary, embittered activist.

Post published in: News
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