Com­mu­ni­ties fight CITES ban

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Her­ald Bu­reau

PEO­PLE liv­ing ad­ja­cent to game parks have raised con­cern over the pro­posed ban of in­ter­na­tional hunt­ing and trade of ele­phants and lions by the Con­ven­tion on In­ter­na­tional Trade in En­dan­gered Species (CITES).

Vil­lagers around Mato­pos Na­tional Park said on Fri­day that they were ben­e­fit­ing from sus­tain­able wildlife con­ser­va­tion and tourism ac­tiv­i­ties in the area.

The Zim­babwe Parks and Wildlife Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity has also urged CITES to first en­gage the com­mu­ni­ties be­fore con­sid­er­ing the ban.

At its up­com­ing CoP17 to be held in South Africa next month, CITES has pro­posed to up­list ele­phants and lions from Ap­pen­dix II to Ap­pen­dix I.

Ap­pen­dix I in­cludes species threat­ened with ex­tinc­tion, and if that pro­posal sails through, Zim­babwe will be banned from in­ter­na­tional hunt­ing and trad­ing of ele­phants and lions.

Gov­ern­ment had al­ready re­jected the pro­posal and com­mu­ni­ties are also weighing in say­ing it would fuel poach­ing and con­flict be­tween peo­ple and wildlife.

A vil­lager from Silozwi area in Ma­tobo Mrs Martha Ndlovu said, “We are ben­e­fit­ing from wildlife and tourism ac­tiv­i­ties in this area. The game au­thor­i­ties al­low us to cut hay grass from the park for sale, and we are send­ing our chil­dren to school from such pro­ceeds.

“There are tourists who also come here to see wildlife and they buy our prod­ucts as well. It should be noted that these an­i­mals need to be man­aged and that can only be achieved through com­mer­cial hunt­ing and trade.

“Gov­ern­ment should do ev­ery­thing in its ca­pac­ity to stop the pro­posed ban we are hear­ing of,” she said.

Mato­pos Na­tional Park camp man­ager Mr Emi­son Magodhi said: “We are do­ing var­i­ous com­mu­nity projects in­clud­ing build­ing houses for the el­derly. As part of com­mu­nity en­gage­ment, we al­low peo­ple to cut grass for sale in the park and that has proved to be one of the best tools to fight veld fires es­pe­cially dur­ing this pe­riod of the year.

“We are also em­ploy­ing lo­cal peo­ple for non skilled du­ties dur­ing the on­go­ing ren­o­va­tion ex­er­cise of our lodges. We have some of the best lodges that are at­tract­ing tourists from as far as Aus­tralia and Ger­many. We hope to do more com­mu­nity projects in fu­ture as long as we are al­lowed to con­tinue do­ing sus­tain­able wildlife con­ser­va­tion ac­tiv­i­ties.”

ZimParks board mem­ber Mr Cephas Mu­denda said: “It’s vi­tal that CITES should take note that peo­ple need to ben­e­fit from the re­sources they are tak­ing care of. There is no rea­son for one to take care of a re­source that will not ben­e­fit him at the end of the day. We feel we are go­ing to get sup­port at CITES that ele­phants and lions re­main in Ap­pen­dix II, so that we can get rev­enue to man­age our wildlife.”

He said it was hyp­o­crit­i­cal that coun­tries that do not have wildlife were ad­vo­cat­ing for such a ban.

Last week, Camp­fire di­rec­tor Mr Charles Jonga said the real threat to wildlife was com­mer­cial poach­ing while hunt­ing was one of the most prac­ti­cal con­ser­va­tion tools to fight poach­ing at both grass­roots and in­ter­na­tional lev­els.

He said Camp­fire was com­ple­ment­ing Gov­ern­ment’s ef­forts, and those of other coun­tries, in fight­ing shad­owy in­ter­na­tional wildlife traf­fick­ing syn­di­cates.

Zim­babwe Parks and Wildlife Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity rangers com­mem­o­rate World Rangers Day in Vic­to­ria Falls at the week­end

VP Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa

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