Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority states its case
The Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority provides the venue, Lake Kariba, for the annual Kariba Invitation Tiger Fishing Tournament. ZimParks spokesperson Tinashe Farawo answers our questions relating to the iconic tournament.
*** Q: The issue of Parks fees has been raised by tournament organisers; that the fees are steep. Do you share their concerns and what is the way forward? A: Yes, the organisers have raised the issue and complained that the fees are on the high end, but we are open to engage and we have made this clear to them. We want to ensure that everyone benefits in the interests of national development and growth of our tourism industry. This is the mandate we have from our director-general, Mr Fulton Upenyu Mangwanya, to ensure that we market our country, we market Kariba and all resorts we have in Zimbabwe. In any case, these fees are only US$25 so for participants to say they are finding it difficult to participate because of US$25, I don’t think it is fair. But again we are willing to engage so that everyone benefits — the organisers ZimParks and the whole tourism industry. This is our tournament and it is part of marketing Destination Kariba. It is worthwhile to note that we are a small component of the whole package of participating at this tournament, so it is not fair to blame us for charging US$25 as participating fees. Q: Participant figures have been going down, which should concern ZimParks. Have you engaged organisers to see what can be done to resuscitate the
t is correct that the figures for the parcipants have been going down over the ast years and because ZimParks regard ITFT as a significant tournament we are aturally concerned. an effort to make sure that the tournament keeps running our director-general as an open-door policy, the organisers must come and we are prepared to listen o the concerns they have. What we want to move this country forward and ensure hat we all benefit. on record that we have given discounts nd waivers on some occasions on some ctivities involving KITFT and this we have one in the spirit of encouraging more parcipants. Given the significance of the tournament o the country’s tourism, have you been art of its marketing and what strategies re there to link it to the national and lobal economy? We don’t only want people to go for KITFT nly but we also want them to do game rives, boat cruises, canoeing, gorge wings, to include visits to our scenic phoographic sites and, of course, the fishing. well, on their way to Kariba they may pass hrough Chinhoyi Caves, to get an apprecition of the beauty that is Zimbabwe. Karba is as good as Victoria Falls in terms of ctivities but Kariba is better because the lace is full of opportunities, it is virgin and and we are open to facilitate the utisation of that land. re are a lot of opportunities so we are aying to our tourists, yes, Victoria Falls good but think of Kariba as an equally ood destination. That is the package we re offering. Do you have other events or tournaments hat borrow or lean on the tiger fishing
tournament, events which market Zimbabwe’s tourism?
A: There are various events of similar nature that do happen in Parks estates that help market our country as a tourism destination and these include: Vumba Old Mutual Mountain Run which is sponsored by Old Mutual and is hosted by Vumba Botanical Gardens annually. This year’s event is happening this weekend, actually it took place yesterday. Nyanga Trout Fishing Tournament which is hosted by Nyanga National Park and is an annual event. Muramba-Burble Fishing Tournament which is hosted by Chivero Recreational Park annually Bass Fishing Tournament which happens in Ngezi and Sebakwe annually. Pumping Legs Bicycle Riding Event which happens in Hwange National Park Main Camp. KAZA Golf Tournament which happens in Zambezi National Park in Victoria Falls every year. Matopos 33 Miler Drive Cycling Event which is hosted by Matopos National Park annually. Tour de Tuli Cycling Event which sometimes pass through Tuli Safari Area, depending with the prescribed route in that particular year. Lomagundi Zambezi River Ride a cycling event which happens in Marongora Safari Area. Bass Masters Fishing Tournament hosted by Darwendale Recreational Park annually. These events happen in the parks estate and attract participants from around Zimbabwe and the region. Like the KITFT event these other events are also very significant to the country’s tourism and we slot them all on our Zimparks Calendar of Events. These events also attract large numbers of
participants. Q: Away from tiger fishing, there a number of issues that Parks have to grapple with, for instance the poisoning of elephants. What is the long-term solution to this menace? A: The truth is we have an over-abundance of elephants, with the national population standing at approximately 84 000, most of which are in Matabeleland North and the Lowveld. You look at Hwange, it has a carrying capacity of 12 500 but is currently saddled with more than 45 000 elephants. To the south, Gonarezhou has a carrying capacity of 5 000 but is carrying about 11 000 elephants at the moment. What this means is that we need sustainable management of elephants, reason why our newly appointed director-general is keen on the implementation of an elephant management plan. This plan encompasses the Greater Limpopo, KAZA and Greater Mapungubwe sanctuaries. But managing such huge elephant populations involves more than just ZimParks, there is need for an all-stakeholder approach. We are drafting laws that makes it punishable, by a jail term, to be found in possession of cyanide in areas like Hwange, where there is no meaning use of cyanide in mining operations. We are advocating the continued and close monitoring of all imported cyanide, that its movement is recorded and affords for easy tracking, in cases where there is such need. Over and above working with our partners in the said trans-frontier parks, we are currently involved in a number of research initiatives, using modern technology in tracking and monitoring elephant trends to help with the biological monitoring that we have traditionally done. The adoption of new technology helps us to monitor, control and track elephants from a distance, without necessarily disturbing the animals’ ecological existence. Q: Which brings us to the issue of the massive ivory stockpiles... A: The last time elephants were culled must have been in the late ‘80s and culling was an effective way of elephant conservation. For instance, we are using boreholes in Hwange to provide water to the elephants. Besides the drilling costs, there are running costs attendant to the borehole and if we were allowed to be trading our elephants, either as live sales or ivory, we would be to offset some of these costs, so that we provide a sustainable management plan for them. And not just elephants.
Q: What is the explanation for elephant poaching being concentrated around Hwange National Park?
A: Tsholotsho, for example, shares a boundary with Hwange National Park but we don’t get as much poisoning as around Hwange rural areas. This is because of community involvement, where communities benefit from wildlife, they feel they have an obligation to protect the wildlife. In Hwange there hasn’t been any community involvement and the community there feels there is nothing to benefit from the elephants, probably reason why the poisoning is concentrated there. It is equally important to note that most of the poisoning occurs outside our protected areas.
Q: Sport hunting is an emotive topic. How do we balance eco-tourism and conservation concerns?
A: I will answer that with the help of figures. In 2015, we lost 317 elephants to poaching, of which 218 were killed with rifles and 99 were poisoned. If we use the guidelines provided by the Parks and Wildlife Act, in which an adult elephant is priced at US$50 000, we are looking at about US$15 million that went to waste. What could we have done with that amount of money if we were allowed to trade our elephants or their products? Animal rights activists might think they are helping the cause by protesting sport hunting but in essence the benefits outweigh the negatives. What we want is the sustainable utilisation of our wildlife population.