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‘Cites restrictions fuel poaching’

‘Cites restrictions fuel poaching’
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri

Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri

Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
restrictions imposed on trade in wildlife resources by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) is fuelling poaching and illicit dealings in wildlife and its products, Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri has said.

She said this at a workshop on wildlife governance organised by the Zimbabwe Parliamentary Conservation Caucus yesterday.

“On the international forum we have organisations such as CITES which are increasingly being characterised by trade restrictions that are adversely affecting trade in our wildlife resources and fuelling wildlife crimes through the suppression of legal markets and resulting in the emergence of parallel black markets due to the huge demand of wildlife and wildlife-related products.

“Some trade provisions under CITES are increasingly frustrating our conservation efforts. Zimbabwe has 102 tonnes of elephant ivory stocks that have accumulated over the years for which we expect financial gain.” She said the increase in poaching and other wildlife crimes were of concern to President Mugabe, with Government adopting a number of strategies to combat the crime.

“Wildlife crime has become an issue at the highest political level within the country and at global level. I am pleased to note that strategies to combat wildlife poaching, illicit trafficking of and illegal trade in wildlife have been put in place at all levels including national, regional Sadc and African continental levels. We lost 243 elephants to poaching in 2015, 159 in 2016 and 24 so far this year,” she said.

The minister said poaching and illegal trade in wildlife involved transnational organised crime and had links with trafficking in humans, drugs, precious minerals and arms.

The minister also bemoaned inconsistencies in legislation saying this was making conservation efforts difficult.

Some of the laws she cited include inconsistencies between the Parks and Wildlife Act and the National Museums and Monuments Act and also between the Parks and Wildlife Act and the Mines and Minerals Act.

Chairperson of the Parliamentary Conservation Caucus Cde Wonder Mashange said they would lobby Government to align the laws and also engage Sadc parliamentarians to come up with a position on trade in wildlife products.

“We will lobby Government to look at the legislative gaps and ensure uniformity and clarity. We will also engage sister caucuses in region to lobby international organisations like CITES so that we can have regulated trade in ivory and other wildlife products so that we benefit our communities,” Cde Mashange said.

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