Story by Cordelia Ngara
THE need for communities, the private sector and government to renew partnerships to enhance wildlife conservation has come under scrutiny as the country joined the global community to mark World Wildlife Day this Wednesday.
In a media briefing to mark the event, the Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism, and Hospitality Industry, Honourable Mangaliso Ndhlovu highlighted government strides in wildlife conservation, including the setting up of a relief fund to assist survivors of human-wildlife conflict.
Hon Mangaliso said, ‘‘This year’s World Wildlife Day is being observed under the theme “Partnerships for Wildlife Conservation”. The theme applies calls for local communities, local authorities, national conservation and regulatory institutions, policy makers, non-state actors, the private sector, and governments to renew national, regional, and global partnerships to enhance wildlife conservation. Last year the cabinet approved a relief fund and we’re working on its establishment by end of March. It is meant for human wildlife conflict. Will also be looking at supporting those maimed by wildlife with serious injuries and permanent disabilities and see how we can support them.’’
The government has reaffirmed its commitment to ensure international trade in various species of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
Hon Mangaliso added, ‘‘In as much as we underscore the mutually reinforcing character of the CITES decisions and resolutions and the importance of achieving universal adherence to the convention, we have fundamental differences with CITES on the direction which it seems to be taking, the direction of banning and/or overregulating international trade as opposed to facilitating sustainable international trade. In Zimbabwe, we believe in strengthening the role of international wildlife trade in the global economy as a way of uplifting the living standards of rural communities which co-exist with wildlife.’’
The government has made significant strides in wildlife and environment conservation, including the establishment of a National Wetlands Policy as part of efforts to protect wetlands from unsustainable human activities.
However, human wildlife conflict remains the elephant in the room, with more than 60 lives being lost last year. The ballooning wildlife population, particularly elephants, due to the ban on the trade of ivory, has worsened the situation.