Gurira flaunts do­mes­tic tourism

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - TOURISM - An­drew Moyo

UNITED States-based ac­tress, Danai Gurira, has made a name for her­self on the in­ter­na­tional film scene.

This year alone, she has starred in two crit­i­cally ac­claimed Hol­ly­wood block­buster movies — “Black Pan­ther” and “Avengers In­fin­ity War.”

While the “Walk­ing Dead” su­per­star has be­come a global icon, thanks to her ex­ploits on both the small and big screen, back home she has been us­ing her in­flu­ence for the greater good.

Last week, she launched the “Poach­ing Steals from Us All” cam­paign in col­lab­o­ra­tion with WildAid, Zim­babwe Parks and Wildlife Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity (Zim­parks) and the Zam­bezi So­ci­ety.

The anti-poach­ing cam­paign is run­ning across Africa, with the Zim­bab­wean ef­fort also pro­mot­ing wildlife tourism in­ter­na­tion­ally and en­cour­ag­ing lo­cals to visit their own al­lur­ing na­tional parks, which in­clude Hwange, Gonarezhou and Mana Pools, to name just a few.

In a speech at the launch cer­e­mony held at Zim­parks Gar­dens in Harare, Gurira ap­plauded Zim­parks for the work they are do­ing in fight­ing poach­ing.

“I am proud of the fact that Zim­parks and Zim­babwe as a whole have been re­ally on top of the anti-poach­ing game. From the time when I was a child, I would al­ways see ads on the need to pro­tect our rhi­nos, so I al­ways knew that grow­ing up,” said Gurira.

There is need for lo­cals to ap­pre­ci­ate lo­cal wildlife re­sources, said Gurira.

“We don’t need to go to Dubai for hol­i­days, we can stay right here and en­joy what we have in the coun­try. The more we do that, the more we in­vite more peo­ple into the coun­try be­cause we would have in­vested in our­selves first. I talk my mouth off when I am in the West, telling peo­ple that they should come (and) ex­pe­ri­ence our wildlife, and I will con­tinue to do so,” she said.

Sep­a­rately, in a pub­lic ser­vice an­nounce­ment that WildAid posted on their YouTube chan­nel, Gurira sings the same hymn: “We are still los­ing our rhi­nos to ruth­less poach­ers who kill these beau­ti­ful an­i­mals just be­cause peo­ple want their horns. We are los­ing our her­itage and an im­por­tant at­trac­tion for our tourism in­dus­try, so please re­port wildlife crime and help pro­tect our rhi­nos, be­cause poach­ing steals from us all.”

Zim­parks spokesper­son Mr Ti­nashe Farawo also told par­tic­i­pants at the same event that al­though cases of poach­ing were on the de­cline, more still needed to be done.

“In com­par­i­son to pre­vi­ous years, where we have lost hun­dreds of ele­phants due to poach­ers who use cyanide, the fig­ures have been go­ing down,” said Mr Farawo.

“This year we have lost two ele­phants to cyanide and about 10 through gun­shots, but last year we lost around 60 ele­phants to poach­ing; so you can see that we are do­ing a bril­liant job to en­sure that we pro­tect our wildlife. In terms of rhi­nos, we are hav­ing prob­lems in Bubi, but in other places we are do­ing ok,” he said.

While cur­rent con­ser­va­tion ef­forts are ef­fec­tive, he added, one of the key ar­eas they hoped to con­tinue ex­celling in — es­pe­cially in part­ner­ship with WildAid — is aware­ness.

He said: “Peo­ple need to see these an­i­mals as a re­source. As long as com­mu­ni­ties where the an­i­mals don’t ap­pre­ci­ate the im­por­tance of these an­i­mals, it be­comes dif­fi­cult for us to de­feat poach­ing. When these poach­ers come, they stay within the com­mu­ni­ties and if peo­ple in these com­mu­ni­ties alert us of these in­di­vid­u­als, it be­comes eas­ier for us to de­tect and fight this men­ace.

“So ed­u­ca­tion and aware­ness is para­mount. WildAid is com­ing in to en­sure that ev­ery Zim­bab­wean knows about poach­ing and the dan­gers it poses on the coun­try and its econ­omy. When peo­ple visit Zim­babwe, they are not just com­ing to sleep in ho­tels, they come to see wild an­i­mals. So we need to pro­tect them.”

WildAid is a non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion that is work­ing to end wildlife trade by re­duc­ing global con­sump­tion of wildlife prod­ucts such as ivory, rhino horn and shark fin soup.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion works with celebrity am­bas­sadors such as Sir Richard Bran­son, Prince Wil­liam, Leonardo Dicaprio, Lupita Ny­ong’o and David Beck­ham as well as a global net­work of me­dia part­ners that lever­age on pro bono me­dia sup­port.

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