Zim­babwe Na­tional Parks and Wildlife Author­ity states its case

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - TOURISM -

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

tour­na­ment?

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.

Ti­nashe Farawo

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