Japan do­nates anti-poach­ing cen­tre to Zim

The Star Late Edition - - NEWS - Peter Kenny

GENEVA: The Con­ven­tion on In­ter­na­tional Trade in En­dan­gered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) says Japan has handed Zim­babwe a strate­gic anti-poach­ing op­er­a­tions cen­tre lo­cated in the Che­wore Sa­fari Area in the coun­try’s north.

A top South African of­fi­cial with Cites praised the move this week as a boost to halt ele­phant poach­ing in the area, a World Her­itage site, which is one of the last truly wild ecosys­tems left in the world.

Ja­panese am­bas­sador Toshiyuki Iwado handed the fa­cil­ity over to the Zim­babwe Parks and Wildlife Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity, Cites said from Geneva, where it is based.

The cen­tre, in the 330 000ha area, near Mana Pools, serves as a post for field rangers con­duct­ing op­er­a­tions.

Thea Car­roll, the South African head of the Cites Mon­i­tor­ing the Il­le­gal Killing of Ele­phants (Mike), pro­gramme, praised Japan’s fund­ing of the de­vel­op­ment as “in­valu­able”.

“The in­vest­ment and at­ten­tion given to the area, which is rel­a­tively re­mote and rarely vis­ited, has had a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on the over­all morale of the staff based in the Che­wore Sa­fari Area by en­hanc­ing their ca­pac­ity to ef­fec­tively pro­tect the area,” noted Car­roll.

She was di­rec­tor of South Africa’s Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs’ bio­di­ver­sity plan­ning and man­age­ment sec­tion be­fore tak­ing up her post with Mike this year.

“The pro­gramme is sup­port­ing the Che­wore Sa­fari Area to strengthen its law enforcement ca­pac­ity and sys­tems aimed at re­duc­ing the il­le­gal killing of ele­phants and other wildlife species,” said Car­roll.

The Che­wore Sa­fari Area pro­vides shel­ter for im­mense con­gre­ga­tions of Africa’s large mam­mal pop­u­la­tions, which con­cen­trate on its flood plains. How­ever, it faces a real threat from poach­ing, and in re­cent years, ele­phants have come un­der in­creas­ing pres­sure.

In 2016, seven ele­phants were poached be­tween Jan­uary and July in this area alone.

The new cen­tre en­hances the ca­pa­bil­ity of the Zim­bab­wean author­i­ties’ surveil­lance, and in pre­vent­ing ele­phant poach­ing in the area.

“This fa­cil­ity we are cel­e­brat­ing to­day plays an im­por­tant role in eas­ing pa­trol op­er­a­tions in the sub­re­gion,” said Zim­babwe Parks and Wildlife Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity con­ser­va­tion di­rec­tor Arthur Musakwa.

Iwado said: “The il­le­gal wildlife trade is an ur­gent global is­sue. Japan is deeply com­mit­ted to the cause of pro­tect­ing ele­phants from atro­cious acts by in­ter­na­tional crim­i­nal or­gan­i­sa­tions and oth­ers.”

Cites reg­u­lates in­ter­na­tional trade in over 36 000 species of plants and an­i­mals, in­clud­ing their prod­ucts and de­riv­a­tives, to en­sure their sur­vival in the wild, with ben­e­fits for the liveli­hoods of lo­cal peo­ple. -

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