The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) has crafted an elephant management plan to minimise poaching and maintain the current population which now exceeds 84000 countrywide.
Zimbabwe has an over population of elephants with Hwange National Park currently having 45 000 against a carrying capacity of 12500.
The elephant management plan and policies, which are in line with regional trends, will run until 2020 and are aimed at improving the conservation efforts by implementing new strategies that are set to minimise poaching.
Zimparks Public Relations Manager, Mr Tinashe Farawo said the plan includes revisiting the legislative changes as the authority tightens its zero tolerance to poaching, illegal ivory trade and trafficking.
“We are also looking at the introduction of a draft for the use of cyanide where we are saying anyone found in possession of this dangerous chemical is liable to at least six months in prison without an option to pay a fine,” he said.

Hwange National Park has the highest cases of poaching countrywide and further investigations have revealed that poaching is more rampant in areas where Campfire has failed to bring tangible benefits to the community.

Note from Editor 5It is notable that the benefits to the community from the Campfire system has reduced in recent times due to the drop off in Hunting in the community areas in Zimbabwe. The Campfire system worked extremely well in the days when hunting was profitable, was conducted in the community farming areas and a fair portion of trophy and other hunting fees was returned to the community administration. Often these community areas are found adjacent to wildlife parks and hunting areas such as “Safari Areas” or “Forestry Areas”, the benefits from the hunting through payment of fees was a good deterrent to the community to reduce poaching even in some cases employing their own anti poaching team. A large reason for the drop off in the viability of hunting in these areas is due to the negative perception of hunting which is very often counterproductive for habitat and wildlife.

Ultimately I believe that the wildlife industry in Zimbabwe would like to see the communities on the periphery of the wildlife areas benefiting from non consumptive ( photographic ) tourism but Zimbabwe’s tourism, although on the increase, is not yet at the level that can substantially benefit these communities.

In further news from National Parks through Government news portal ZBC

The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) has intensified the anti-poaching awareness campaign in Matabeleland North Province with a view to remind the communities of the important role they should play in wildlife conservation.

Zimparks which has declared war on poachers held a one day anti-poaching awareness campaign in Mbizha area of Jambezi as part of the ongoing efforts to engage relevant stakeholders who include members of the community in the fight against the poaching scourge.

Chief Shana of Jambezi in Hwange said the recent killing of 13 elephants using cyanide should see a coordinated response by stakeholders and highlighted the significance of sustainable management of the country rich wildlife heritage.

Zimparks wildlife officer, Mr Matthew Muleya and ZRP community relations and liaison officer, Constable Kizito Makuvire highlighted the dangers of cyanide to the environment and appealed to the community to assist the law enforcement agencies with useful information in the fight against poaching.

Villagers and traditional leaders described the awareness campaign as informative and pledged to take stewardship of the wildlife heritage.
The villagers were encouraged to form anti-poaching and veld fire committees as part of efforts to ensure sustainable utilisation of the country natural resources.

Editor 5 VF24