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Poachers decimate Zim elephants

Poachers decimate Zim elephants

By  | January 4, 2017

Source: Poachers decimate Zim elephants – DailyNews Live 04 January 2017

Farayi Machamire

HARARE – Elephant population in northern Zimbabwe’s Sebungwe District has
declined by 75 percent due to poaching in the last decade, a wildlife
conservation group Bumi Hills Foundation (BHF) has said.

BHF – a non-profit organisation based in Kariba – said poaching was
wreaking havoc in wildlife sanctuaries and hunting reserves.

“Just 10 years ago there were 15 000 elephants living in the Sebungwe
region. As a result of poaching there are just 3 500 left today,” the
Foundation said.

“We need to reverse this trend in 2017. As a result of the escalating
levels of wildlife poaching in the Zambezi Valley areas, there has – in
recent years – been a huge increase in the number of individual
organisations working to combat the threats and to assist the Zimbabwe
Parks and Wildlife Authority to carry out their mandate of protecting the
nation’s natural areas and the wildlife within them,” BHF said.

Zimbabwe’s elephant population is estimated to be around 82 630.

Government says the country’s current stockpile of ivory weighs about 70
tonnes and is worth approximately $35 million.

Officials contend that if sold, the money generated will plug a huge
financial hole.

Zimbabwe had hoped to be allowed to sell its ivory stockpiles to raise
badly-needed funds for conservation.

However, its efforts hit a brick wall at the recent 17th meeting of the
Conference of the Parties to Cites in South Africa.

The global conference that governs wildlife trade voted overwhelmingly in
two secret ballots against the proposal.

Environment minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri did not hide her frustration
over what she viewed as a “punishment” for the country’s “good
conservation deeds”.

Muchinguri-Kashiri had hoped to be allowed to sell ivory stockpiles to
raise badly-needed funds for conservation.

“…keeping this resource in our armoury which is very expensive and also
taking care of this wildlife which is also expecting us to put in
resources which are in our armoury, we feel that’s unfair,”
Muchinguri-Kashiri said then.

“Each country has their sovereign rights and people make choices but what
we don’t appreciate is those same countries trying to impose their choices
on us because we have done so well,” she said.

Muchinguri-Kashiri felt that trade bans were futile and have in the past
not prevented species from extinction.

However, Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force chairman Johnny Rodrigues is
adamant that there is need to close ivory “trade and penalise the
importing countries (or else) these majestic animals are going to be
extinct in the next ten years.”

Still, others believe countries sitting on healthy ivory stockpiles should
be allowed to trade legally to dampen the demand for poached tusks.

A recent report by African Elephant Status Report noted that Zimbabwe’s
total elephant population had declined by 9 000 but remained relatively
stable amid a surge in poaching.

The report put Africa’s elephant population at around 415 000, a decline
of around 111 000 over the past decade.

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