BY SHINGIRAI VAMBE
AFRICA is bearing the brunt of international poachers who are decimating wildlife in conservancies, Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Prisca Mupfumira has said.
Mupfumira told delegates attending the ongoing African Union — United Nations Africa Wildlife Economy Summit in Victoria Falls on Sunday that there is need to curb poaching, protect the environment and give back to communities surrounding conservancies.
The conference is expected to address a number of issues affecting Africa and other international partners, particularly sustainable conservation of wildlife and human-wildlife conflict and is also a platform to present strategies on how to unlock value from wildlife. In attendance are representatives from 30 African countries and some international delegates.
“I am delighted by your attendance at this conference, which is very important especially for Zimbabwe. Some must be aware of the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) comprising of Angola, Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia, we boast of hosting 60% of the world’s elephant population, while Zimbabwe and Botswana, have over 250 000 elephants, while the world has 500 000 elephants,” Mupfumira said.
“The KAZA TFCA is no doubt one of the biggest transfrontier parks in the world and offers a lot of investment opportunities. It is slowly emerging as the beacon of sustainable management of shared natural and cultural resources in a collaborative manner across territorial boundaries. The diverse wildlife offers vast opportunities for economic and social development for our countries, through sustainable use of wildlife assets, ecotourism and related ancillary services to protected areas.
“We are, therefore, united against illegal wildlife syndicates, which promote the poaching of our prized wildlife, posing a serious threat to the future of the wildlife sector.”
Mupfumira said although local poaching cases had declined, it was everyone’s responsibility to protect the environment and wildlife, because if killing of wild animals goes unchecked, it would destroy Africa’s natural resources and economies. She bemoaned international poachers invading conservancies and killing wild animals.
She also said cases of human-wildlife conflict continue unabated across Africa.
“I am hoping that at the end of this summit, we would have come up with solutions, especially within the southern African region, on how to improve conservation, especially with elephants which also have cost the lives of people,” she added.
“. . . within us we have 60% of the wildlife mostly elephants of the whole world. This means we had to sit down to talk on how we should move together in the same (direction) and on how to educate other nations on how people and animals live together,” she said.
She said the boom in Zimbabwe elephants was fuelling human-wildlife conflict, with people losing crops, homesteads and lives to the jumbos.