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National Parks in destocking exercise

National Parks in destocking exercise

By  | May 29, 2017

Source: National Parks in destocking exercise – Sunday News May 28, 2017

Tinomuda Chakanyuka, Senior Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) said its destocking exercise will continue despite improved pastures and water resources in most wildlife protected areas in the country.

Last year Zimparks announced that it was destocking its wildlife population to avert drought-induced animal deaths.
Zimparks acting spokesperson Mr Simukai Nyasha said the drought situation in wildlife protected areas had improved following a good 2016-2017 rainfall season.

He said the authority would, however, continue destocking as a population management tool in some wildlife protected areas that were overpopulated.

“Zimparks does not just promote destocking of wildlife areas during drought periods. Destocking and restocking of wildlife areas in Zimbabwe are done primarily for conservation purposes. In Zimbabwe, there are certain areas that have localised wildlife overpopulations and these are usually prioritised for destocking,” said Mr Nyasha.

He cited the Hwange-Matetsi Complex as one of the areas that have an over-abundance of elephant populations of over 54 000, which is well above the ecological carrying capacity. The elephant remains one of Zimbabwe’s flagship species whose population continues to grow over years. The total elephant population in Zimbabwe is well above 83 000.

Mr Nyasha said the buffalo, leopard and lion populations were also stable in most parts of the country. He also noted a steady increase in rhino population over years, from about 600 in 2010 to slightly above 800 this year.

“There are areas where there is also local overabundance of lions and this manifests in increased human and lion conflict mostly in adjacent communal areas,” he said.

Mr Nyasha said Zimparks had employed non-lethal options of destocking such as capturing and translocating live animals to approved destinations in and outside the country, in line with national and international regulations.

“These options include capturing and translocating live animals to approved, appropriate and acceptable destinations within and outside Zimbabwe in terms of national and international regulations,” he said.

Mr Nyasha said destocking was being carried out in Parks Estate, gazetted forest areas, communal areas as well as private lands as a population management strategy and is being monitored by Zimparks.

“Currently we have a number of wildlife farmers undertaking wildlife translocation exercises within various wildlife farms.

“Zimbabwe has diverse wildlife species and most of these are found within the Parks Estate while other significant populations of wildlife are found in Gazetted Forest areas, communal areas as well as private lands,” he said.

Mr Nyasha said the water and vegetation situation at Hwange National Park, which usually requires intervention for game water supply, had significantly improved. He said Zimparks would thus focus more on fire management this year, and work on pre-suppression fire management, education and awareness campaigns had started.

“Zimparks has managed to secure essential equipment for fire management with financial resources being mobilized through our conservation partners,” he said.

Hwange Sanyati Biological Corridor project being funded by Global Environment Facility through the World Bank and implemented by WWF Zimbabwe financed the drilling of six deep level boreholes at strategic water points in Hwange National Park. The new boreholes were fitted with solar-powered submersible pumps to reduce recurrent costs associated with diesel pumping, increasing the number of solar-powered sites to 30 and ensure continuous pumping of water throughout the year.

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