Gurira flaunts domestic tourism
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.