Director Of Zimbabwe Parks And Wildlife Addresses Poaching Problem


Published: February - 2010

I met with the Director General of Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife at the SCI Convention in Reno to discuss the poaching problem there as well as some other issues affecting hunting in Zimbabwe. Continuing subscribers know that I have reported numerous times about a variety of poaching problems. During the worst of the economic/political crisis in Zimbabwe, safari operators and hunters saw a sharp rise in not only local subsistence poaching but commercial poaching for the sale of bush meat in urban areas. According to the director, Dr. M. Z. Mtsambiwa, the improved economic situation and increased stability have lead to a sharp decline in this kind of poaching. Because fresh beef and chicken are available at market again, the need for bush meat has greatly diminished. What continues to be a big problem is the commercial poaching for hides, rhino horns and elephant ivory by international poaching rings.

This kind of activity has been well publicized in the international media, particularly the rhino poaching, which has also severely affected South Africa. According to Mtsam- biwa and other sources I have spoken with, the demand for this activity is being driven by individuals in Asia, particularly from Vietnam. What has made these rings so effective of late, says Mtsambiwa, is that they have successfully recruited locals to assist them. He says this became prevalent due to the recent economic troubles in Zimbabwe, which made some people willing to take chances in exchange for more money than they could make in a year. Couple this with very lenient penalties for wildlife violations and the result is that numerous Zimbabweans, even some Parks and Wildlife staff members, have assisted with the collection and smuggling of rhino and elephant parts.

The good news, according to Mtsambiwa, is that the sharp rise in this kind of poaching and the international publicity it has attracted has given his agency increased pull with other agencies in strengthening penalties for wildlife violations and cooperation in patrolling and capturing violators. Mtsambiwa says they were able to get police departments and even segments of the army to team up for........(continued)

 
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