Japan donates anti-poaching centre to Zim
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. -