The Empire continues to strike back

Queen Elizabeth II

For most Zimbabweans, the death of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom was a non-event. There was, however, some lively debate about whether the British monarchy would survive her passing. Many in Zimbabwe think this institution will fade away gradually as the world changes at a fast pace.

But for the discerning ones, the Empire will continue to lay its octopus fingers around the necks of its colonies for a long time to come. Zimbabwe, for example, will continue to suffer the monarchy’s grip in a way few realise. For instance, Prince William, the next in line, is the patron of Tusk Trust, while Prince Harry works with an organisation called African Parks.

Tusk Trust is described as “a British non-profit organisation set up in 1990 to advance wildlife conservation across Africa. The charity is influential in the protection of African elephants, African rhinoceros and African lion, along with many other threatened species across Africa. Tusk’s mission is to amplify the impact of progressive conservation initiatives across Africa”.

Prince Harry, on the other hand, is the president of another conservation organisation called African Parks where he works in various capacities to further the organisation’s “mission in managing national parks on behalf of governments, and to advance wildlife conservation across Africa and around the globe”. At face value, these are noble initiatives, but a closer look reveals something sinister.

African countries, particularly in Southern Africa, can look after their elephants very well, too well, in fact. In the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, which lies in the Kavango and Zambezi river basins — where Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe converge — the elephant population has grown to unsustainable levels due to concerted efforts by the countries to conserve the huge animals. The elephant population in Zimbabwe stands at 100 000 when the country has capacity for only half that number. The population is growing at 5% a year. It is the second largest population after Botswana and the Zimbabwean population is one-quarter of all the elephants in Africa. Zimbabwe has almost completely eliminated the poaching of these awesome creatures.

But there is a downside to them. About 60 people have been killed by the jumbos since the beginning of the year. The human-wildlife conflict is escalating. The African savannah elephant which roams our region is the biggest land animal on earth. An adult one eats about 400kg of foliage every day and needs two drums of water to wash it down. Because of the growing jumbo population, the habitat is shrinking bringing them into conflict with humans.

But the Royal “charities”, through their global influence on organisations such as Tusk Trust, African Parks and Cites, insist that we can’t cull our elephants and sell the ivory. Yet, the proceeds will be used to conserve the elephants. They don’t care about the effect on humans. In fact, Prince William was quoted blaming Africans for their birth rates which he claims are affecting conservation. The ban on the sale of elephant products has the same effect as the debilitating sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the West. But do the princes care?

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