US partners ZimParks to combat poaching

THE United States embassy has joined the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) in its fight to combat poaching, which is rife in the country’s vast wildlife conservancies.

BY NQOBANI NDLOVU

Although government recently adopted a shoot-to-kill policy to deter the vice, reports of poaching still abound.

Wildlife trafficking is the third most valuable illicit trade in the world — after drugs and weapons – and is worth an estimated $10 billion a year, according to the US State Department.

United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nichols last week said the embassy was providing training to ZimParks rangers and private anti-poaching units.

“We are supporting wildlife networks. We are offering training to both civil society and game park officials to combat wildlife trafficking and share information between nationals and key government networks that deal with wildlife trafficking,” Nichols said on the sidelines of the launch of a book detailing Ndebele culture, customs and architecture in Matobo, Matabeleland South province, last week.

A few months ago, Japan also partnered the ZimParks in its anti-poaching operations.

ZimParks, early this year, was applauded by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) for its zero-tolerance policy as seen by a reduction in poaching cases since January.

Statistics provided by ZimParks show that the number of elephants lost to poaching declined from 53 in 2017 to 12 this year.

Ironically, government has been accused of engaging in illegal trafficking of baby elephants to China against CITES’ provisions prohibiting trade of live animals.

Meanwhile, Nichols said the US embassy had also availed funding for the rehabilitation of boreholes in the parks, amid fears of an impending drought owing to the El Nino weather phenomenon.

“On environmental activities, we are focusing on drought mitigation. We have just signed a $24 000 project on irrigation restoration,” he said

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