Conserve biodiversity resources, communities urged

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Loxodonta africana African elephant Bulls drinking at waterhole. Chobe National Park, Zimbabwe

BY KUDAKWASHE TAGWIREYI/OBERT SIAMILANDU

THE Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) yesterday implored communities to take a leading role in wildlife conversation of biodiversity resources.

ZimParks board chairperson Agrippa Sora told delegates at an event to commemorate the World Wildlife Day and African Environment Day yesterday that communities must understand conservation of endangered flora and fauna.

The World Wildlife Day was commemorated under the theme Recovering key species for ecosystem restoration.

“Wildlife plays a key role in the economy of Zimbabwe, especially in leather and tourism industries,” Sora said.

Environment, Climate, Tourism, and Hospitality Industry minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndhlovu said an estimated 36% of the land in the country was affected by land degradation, which was one of the greatest biodiversity threats to wildlife areas.

Ndhlovu said large elephant populations were also destroying ecosystems.

“In Zimbabwe one of the bio-diversity threats comes from large elephant populations which are destroying the ecosystems, hence, causing ecological slums. As a country, we have not fully benefited from such a huge population due to various restrictions on global ivory trade,” Ndhlovu said.

African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) country director, Olivia Mufute, said over 50% of gross domestic product was dependent on nature, making both fauna and flora resources important for social and economic prosperity.

“This makes nature an indispensable resource for social and economic prosperity. At the same time, the human quest for development is exerting enormous pressure on scarce natural resources with adverse consequences manifesting in land degradation and biodiversity loss,” Mufute said.

Tikki Hywood Foundation (THF) in a statement yesterday said: “Our heritage is fast disappearing due to illegal wildlife trafficking and over 1,6 trillion wild animals are killed annually. In Zimbabwe hunting or possession of any of the protected endangered species which include the rhino, the pangolin is a crime that attracts a minimum sentence of nine years imprisonment according to the Parks and Wildlife Act (Chapter 20:14).”

In her keynote address at the just ended Dubai Expo 2020, deputy Environment minister Barbara Rwodzi said Zimbabwe has invested a lot in the protection of its flora and fauna.

“Further, we continuously and scientifically manage our wildlife species, which has seen species whose numbers, are reducing elsewhere like elephants, rhino, giraffe, leopards and many others, actually increasing in Zimbabwe.

“It is, therefore, natural that our tourism is largely wildlife based. In this context, may it be noted that Zimbabwe has reserved 13% of the country for national parks, while in all 25% of Zimbabwe is considered protected land encompassing also State forests.”

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