Black rhino conservancy under threat


In the past few weeks, vandals have stripped off over 20km of protective boundary fencing bordering Zimbabwe’s largest black rhino conservancy in the Midlands, leaving the endangered species vulnerable to poachers.

Sebakwe black rhino conservancy vice-chairperson Silas Chaduka told NewsDay most of the game including the endangered black rhino, were now exposed to poaching following the removal of the shielding boundary fencing.

“Game is now wandering out of the conservancy unchecked owing to the missing boundary fence which is being stolen nearly on a daily basis. Once the game moves out of the conservancy, it is at the mercy of poachers because it is difficult for us to protect it against them,” said Chaduka.

In the past few weeks, vandals stole about 5km of wire from the Belmtree side of the conservancy, 10km from Mahamara and 5km from Morina while some areas dotted around the 100 000-square-kilometre conservancy, which used to be a top foreign currency earner through tourist trophy hunting, are also without fencing.

Chaduka said there were attempts to revive the fortunes of Sebakwe conservancy which had suffered a serious dip since the farm invasions a decade ago.

Conservancy officials refused to reveal information on the game population at Sebakwe allegedly for security reasons, but confirmed the black rhino numbers had dropped and trophy hunting was at its lowest owing to migration and poaching of game.

Officials said the black rhino herd had been seriously reduced due to poaching and fears were high that the conservancy herd could be wiped out.

Chaduka said there was need to restock after replacing all missing lengths in the boundary fence.

“We have a serious challenge with poaching, but we are now educating communities resettled around the conservancy of the advantages derived from trophy hunting unlike poaching or killing for the pot. For instance, a leopard is valued at
$3 000 while a lion is $7 000, but when you kill for the pot you get no funds for development,” he said.