SPEECH BY THE MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENT, WATER AND CLIMATE, HON S KASUKUWERE (MP) AT THE WILDLIFE ECOLOGICAL TRUST FUNDRAISING DINNER: 28 NOVEMBER 2013, RAINBOW TOWERS
Hon Ministers Here Present
The Chairman of the Hwange Ecological Disaster Board of Trustees Mr P Gwatidzo and the Trustees Here Present
The Secretary for Environment, Water and Climate, Mr P Mupazviriho
Board Members of the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority
Captains of Industry Here Present
Senior Government Officials
Media Houses Here Present
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am humbly honoured to be here with you today at this Wildlife Ecological Trust Fundraising Dinner. As you might be aware, in the month of July and August this year more than one hundred (100) elephants, were killed by poachers using a hazardous substance called cyanide in the Hwange National Park. Investigations revealed that the poachers laced thirty five natural salt licks with cyanide from which the elephants got poisoned resulting in their death.
In addition a number of other animal species were also lost and these include two painted dogs - a species that is already endangered, one lion - also endangered, two buffaloes, one giraffe and a number of vultures.
This is not just an ecological calamity, but also impacts negatively on the tourism sector. I am reliably informed that some tourists who intended to visit Hwange National Park are cancelling their bookings and this is a sad development for the tourism industry in particular and the economy at large.
Ladies and gentlemen, the poaching of wildlife witnessed in Hwange National Park is unacceptable and such unethical attacks on our national treasure will be matched with firm and resolute responses. Pursuant to this goal, twelve people were arrested in connection with the poaching and four were handed with effective sixteen year jail terms each and charged restitution fee of USD 800 000 collectively.
Just last week two poachers who poached ten elephants in Ngamo Safaris in Lupane were sentenced to fourteen year jail terms each and the two were ordered to pay restitution of US$ 850 000 each. In addition, the two poachers and three other villagers were also sentenced to four year jail terms each for illegal possession of cyanide under the Environmental Management Act.
We commend the judiciary for taking environmental crimes seriously and we hope it will go a long way in deterring would be poachers from such bad practices.
We also believe that a stitch in time serves many. That is why we are raising resources for the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority to carry out anti-poaching activities and prevent such disasters. Our rangers lack basic field equipment like tents, rack sacks and sleeping bags. It has been noted and is worrying that the radio communication infrastructure in the Park is quite old and needs urgent attention. The roads to some areas within the park are now inaccessible and this affects the Park’s deployment strategies and area of coverage.
Ladies and gentlemen, in view of the financial challenges bedevilling our National Parks, I appointed a Board of Trustees led by Mr Phibion Gwatidzo to assist in fund raising for anti-poaching activities. In support of such a noble cause, it is my hope that tonight we are going to donate significantly to enable the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority to effectively carry out its mandate. As we do this, let us bear in mind that wildlife is a heritage that was handed to us by our forefathers and it is our duty to ensure that we conserve and pass it on to our grand children and generations that follow.
We will not go down in history as a generation that failed to look after such a priceless heritage, and certainly not under my watch, and I hope we all feel the same.
Let me also take this opportunity to sincerely thank companies that have already made some of their donations in response to the anti-poaching programme. Mbada Diamonds donated twenty Land rover vehicles, Econet Wireless donated two vehicles while ZIMOCO donated one vehicle. I urge you all to assist in whatever manner you can because together we can rise to the occasion and protect our wildlife.
Let me also take this time to pass my condolences to the National Parks family and the family of the late Mr. Lovemore Mpeki Maphosa, a ranger with National Parks for more than thirty years who was killed by elephants whilst on patrol in Hwange National Park on the 21st of October 2013. We thank him for his service to the nation.
Ladies and gentlemen, the vision and economic growth targets of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim Asset) can only be achieved if we all play our part. The targets can only be met through sustainable exploitation of the country’s human and natural resources.
Growth targets for Zim Asset under the agriculture, hunting and fishing sector are projected to be -1.3% in 2013, 9.0% in 2014 and 12.5% by 2018. For us to contribute to this growth, we need to capacitate Parks and wildlife Management Authority to combat poaching and institute methods of increasing wildlife species.
There is also need for private sector investment in our wildlife conservancies and safari areas. Private sector investment helps to unlock the value of wildlife and widen the market share of business in wildlife management. Government will ensure that, access to the wildlife industry will be through transparent means such as tendering of hunting concessions. We will ensure that there is equity in the use of these natural resources and that all Zimbabweans have an opportunity to benefit from their use.
I thank you for your generosity and God bless you all.