Zimparks to receive okapi, gorillas from DRC

THE Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) is soon expected to take delivery of okapi and gorilla breeds in a wildlife exchange programme with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government recently donated 10 white rhinos to DRC’s national parks.

By Nokuthaba Dlamini

Zimparks director-general Fulton Upenyu Mangwanya told Southern Eye during a visit to Hwange National Park on Saturday that the exchange programme would benefit both countries’ animal conservation programmes.

“Right now, we are having arrangements with DRC because we have some animals we want from them and they are willing to give us, but we are doing our homework first, because you can’t really take a chimpanzee or gorilla from there before you make plans,” he said.

“Just like they did when they wanted to introduce rhinos, they made serious investment plans and we are also going to do the same. They also have an animal called okapi which resembles half-zebra and half-giraffe and we also need it here. These are sensitive animals, but want to make scientific research and find if it can actually live well here without any problems of habitat changes. We are in talks with our counterparts so that they donate small numbers to start with and increase if they do well. DRC has always been a friend of us and we have done a lot for them and there is no reason for one to make an issue out of these rhinos because they also give us what we want,” Mangwanya said.

He said they had identified Nyanga in Manicaland province as a possible habitat for the gorillas.

Asked about fears of ebola transmission from the gorillas, Mangwanya said: “Don’t worry about the issue of ebola because we will test them before they come here.”

DRC’s rhinos were wiped out during the country’s civil wars which saw an upsurge in poaching and now the situation, according to Mangwanya, was conducive for restocking.

He warned critics against meddling in the country’s conservation efforts, adding that those with queries should approach Zimparks before taking their opinions to the Press.

Conservationists argue that translocation of animals was cruel as some would fail to adapt to the new environment and suffer from depression after being separated from their natural habitat.

6 Comments

  1. Hokoyo neEbola

  2. Why are we taking these animals from their natural habitat and bringing them to new areas? That is how invasive alien species are introduced into a country, and they end up having adverse and often devastating effects on the biodiversity of a country. The article says DRC got rhinos from Zimbabwe to restock after its own rhino population was wiped out during the civil wars. What the DCR is doing therefore makes a lot of sense because it means that rhinos are originally native to DRC, and that country is simply replenishing decimated stocks. Gorillas and okapi are not native to Zimbabwe, why bring them here?

  3. Leave those Ebola infested animals, we don’t need those kind of problems in this country. Don’t be greedy fools!

  4. Importation of Ebola. What economic benefit shall be gained which shall justify the likely outbreak of ebola.

  5. And just HOW are gorillas going to survive without its natural jungle habitat? They will not survive naturally. Introducing a foreign species to its unnatural environment is going to create all manner of problems. Has even one properly degreed natural environmental/animal expert or environmental impact experts even been consulted in a proper formal analysis on this? Surely plain common sense would dictate that this is an unviable option. Personally think this is a smokescreen to placate the outrage of our export of rhino.

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