Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority Public Relations Manager, Caroline Washaya-Moyo says the Authority is running out of storage space for its elephant tusks come December 2013.The Authority says stores only accommodate 65 tonnes of ivory. Currently the Authority is sitting on 62 374, 33 tonnes of ivory valued at approximately US$15, 6 million. This leaves the Authority with less than three tonnes of ivory to fill up the remaining space. Elephant ivory is collected monthly at an average of 1,1 tonnes being received at central stores.
The ivory is obtained from various sources including problem animal control, natural deaths and breakages, confiscation; poaching or it is picked from the fields.
It should be made known that while governments the world over fund conservation, the opposite is true for Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority. The Authority is therefore saying elephant ivory in store represents animals that are already dead therefore why should we not use the dead to look after the living animals?
She added that Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority is struggling to fund its statutory obligations, staff costs and law enforcement which is one of the functions of the Authority. Law enforcement ensures that the Authority undertakes its obligation of enforcing Statutory Acts including the Parks and Wildlife Act (Chapter 20:14), Trapping of Animals Act, Prevention of Cruelty against Animals Act, the Bees Act and the Quelea Control Act. Law enforcement requires operational equipment such as patrol kits, uniforms, radio communication kits, vehicles, boats, tracking equipment (e.g. GPS) which the Authority is in dire need of. Currently most of the existing field equipment is old and obsolete. The current scenario is that poachers are getting sophisticated. In some situations poachers are now using ‘high –tech' gear including night –vision equipment, veterinary tranquilizers, silencers and helicopters to carry out illegal activities.
The other challenges are:
-Under-staffing in rhino intensive protection zones and elephant ranges.
-Inadequate game water supply.
-problem animal management
-lack of funds to carry out conservation/environmental awareness campaign programmes.
-invasive plant species management
-international conventions and agreements obligations, e.g TFCA obligations.
She also stressed that elephant ivory trade is currently on a nine year moratorium which expires in 2017.What it means is that the Authority is affected by the trade ban. This is according to CITES rules that govern trade in elephant ivory. Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority last sold ivory in bulk to Chinese and Japanese buyers, in 2008 as approved by CITES. The ivory weighed approximately 3 tonnes. Zimbabwe’s elephant population is estimated at US$100,000.00 (one hundred thousand dollars).