Chiefs’ conservation efforts applauded

ZimParks has applauded traditional leaders for playing a pivotal  role in conserving wildlife.

THE Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) has applauded traditional leaders for playing a pivotal  role in conserving wildlife.

In his opening remarks during the Mid-Zambezi Region Chiefs’ Biodiversity Conservation Indaba held in Kariba last week, ZimParks director-general Fulton Mangwanya said it was indisputable that chiefs were the custodians of nature and wildlife especially outside of protected areas.

He said the traditional leaders were also the driving force behind the maintenance and reclamation of wildlife corridors.

“History from time immemorial teaches us that our forefathers had traditional governance systems to conserve wildlife. This included the use of totems as a way of sustainably conserving wildlife in the wild. Those linked to a certain animal such as Mhofu, Ndlovu, Mhara (Chikonamombe), among them, would ensure they protect and preserve such species by not killing them or eating the meat thereof.

“They did not attach any commercial value to wildlife, but would only kill enough for the pot to sustain their small families,” he said.

He said the increasing population in Africa and the whole world had become of concern as people and wildlife compete for space.

“As a result, landscapes are increasingly fragmented hence disrupting the free movement of wildlife leading to frequent human-wildlife conflicts.

“This has been exacerbated by anthropogenic destructive actions such as cutting down of trees, unplanned and uncontrolled veldfires which modify the wildlife habitat only but to mention a few,” he said. 

However, Nyaminyami (Kariba) district’s Chief Musambakaruma said traditional leaders should benefit more from proceeds from wildlife.

“We do appreciate the role we play as traditional leaders in conserving wildlife and we expect a better share of the proceeds from wildlife for the betterment of our people in communities where we come from,” the chief said.

The indaba was organised with support from the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) with participants sharing experiences on human-wildlife conflicts, and challenges faced in resource protection as well as sharing information on emerging issues in biodiversity conservation. AWF country director Olivia Mufute said the role of chiefs in conservation had made Zimbabwe one of the best countries in terms of conservation.

“I want to commend our traditional leaders for their efforts in conserving our wildlife — wild lands. This is not just good for the communities only, but, for the whole continent of Africa,” she said.


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