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Concern over Zimbabwe elephant population growth

by Staff reporter
25 May 2022 at 06:31hrs | Views
THE continued growth of elephant populations in Zimbabwe is causing severe ecological problems and serious conflict in communities adjacent to national parks, a Cabinet Minister has said.

The Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Mangaliso Ndlovu reiterated the need for African states to re-engage on the contentious issues around wildlife conservation in order to come up with a hybrid set of recommendations that can be tabled to the international community and solve conservation challenges.

He said if uncontrolled, the country was likely to struggle to control the animals whose population is growing at a rate of 0,5 percent per annum.

Minister Ndlovu was speaking on the sidelines of the African Elephant Conference in Hwange where member states that share the same vision with Zimbabwe seek to find solutions on the ban of ivory trade and culling of elephants by the International community.

Zimbabwe alone is estimated to have close to 100 000 herd of elephants versus five million hectares of land which is 13 percent of the country.

The Minister said holding the conference in the national park was significant in that it was a befitting venue.

"As you would know in "As you would know in Hwange National Park we have close to 45 000 elephants yet in actual fact the capacity is close to 15 000, so it clearly showcases the case that we are preaching to the world that if we are not careful we will continue to make decisions that are not grounded on reality.

In a very short space of time we will find ourselves struggling to contain the elephant situation," he said.

"Following what the President always preaches, engagement and re-engagement, we believe that were we do not seem to be agreeing let us discuss further, as to why people are taking certain positions.

If those positions are influenced by facts, we should be able to listen to them.

We strongly believe in our views and in our position. We are here to share notes on these issues."

He said President Mnangagwa had set the tone for engagement and re-engagement around many issues and wildlife management and conservation was also fit for that process before the country and the rest of like-minded African states go to Panama for the CITES Conference of the Parties 19 meeting in October this year.

The Minister said communities that are affected by elephants must be in a position to tell their story in order to influence change.

"We expect that communities will take the prominent roles, we expect that we get the views of the people who are living with these wild animals, specifically elephants, how they have been interacting with them and how we can continue to support communities because, literally they are taking custody of this world resource so we want to ensure the communities take centre stage and this is one of our key points as we are going to CITES that we need to have a specific segment or permanent sub-committee that comes from their side so that their voices are heard at all times," he said.

Traditional leaders around the National Park have also raised concerns over the continued swelling of the elephant populations in Zimbabwe saying they continue to be a great threat to communities around them as they are killing people and destroying crops annually.

During the first two days of the conference, participants have been focusing on the technical aspects of the issues around wildlife conservation as they seek to emphasise the importance of making science based decisions.

"We have experts in different fields around conservation who are going to enrich the presentations to the main ministers meeting which will take place on Thursday.

We are expecting that we will get a lot of guidance on how we can support conservation from those countries that believe in sustainable conservation and countries that believe in hunting and those that also do not believe in it to see how we can coexist, how the two positing can be promoted in light of conversation," he added.

"We believe that one does not necessarily come out better than the other, we just need to share experiences, we have scientists, we have people that are practical in conservation that will make these presentations."

The conference will table recommendations to ministers of environment on the way forward regarding issues to be taken to CITES later in the year.

Source - The Chronicle