Zimbabwe’s elephant population balloons

Zimbabwe’s elephant population balloons

(insert from herald Walter Mswazie and Runesu Gwidi)
Zimbabwe’s elephant population has ballooned to 84 000, exceeding the carrying capacity of 50 000 jumbos, which is exerting pressure on the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority. Speaking during the launch of the Command Water Harvesting project in Masvingo recently, Zimparks director-general Mr Filton Mangwanya said the problem has been worsened by the CITES ban on the sale of elephants.

“Since we are unable to sell our elephants due to CITES restriction, the elephants’ population has ballooned to 84 000 and yet we have a carrying capacity of only 50 000,” he said. He said the authority was failing to contain poaching activities, partly due to staff shortages. This has seen one game ranger being responsible for manning 1 000 square kilometres of area when the ideal situation should be one ranger per 20 square kilometres. Mr Mangwanya decried rampant poaching activities in Zimbabwe that saw a good number of the elephants being killed through shooting or poisoning.

A total of 893 jumbos were killed by poachers during the period between 2013 and 2016. Out of this number, 249 elephants were killed through poisoning using cyanide and shooting. We suspect that these poisonous chemicals come from the mining and agriculture sectors or other chemical industries,” said Mr Mangwanya. Mr Mangwanya said Zimparks had potential to contribute to the country’s economic development, but this was being affected by a lack of resources.

“Our own lodges at national parks are not in good shape, while perimeter fences have been destroyed by unscrupulous villagers, resulting in human-animal conflict,” he said. Zimparks, he said, felt that if they were allowed to sell some of the elephants, they could get resources to refurbish infrastructure at national parks and game reserves.

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Zimparks guns down hippo in Nyanyadzi

August 31, 2017August 31, 2017
Inset from Zimpapers. THE Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority last week shot dead a hippopotamus that was damaging winter wheat in Nyanyadzi. The hippo, which had a calf, is believed to have escaped from Save Conservancy. ZPWMA ordered the shooting of the hippos after traditional leaders in the area reported that it was damaging crops and endangering lives. ZPWMA officer, Mr John Danfa, said they were still hunting for the calf which is believed to have found habitat along Save River. “Usually hippos move up and down rivers during the rainy season. We believe the two escaped from Save Valley Conservancy. They were both females and they do not usually click if there is no male. “They are believed to have separated. We received reports from traditional leaders in Hot Springs and Nyanyadzi that these hippos were feeding on wheat and crops in their fields.” “People’s lives were endangered so the authorities ordered its killing. The first time we attempted to kill it, it was in the company of so many cattle and could not do anything. Our officer teamed up with villagers to track it until last week when it was shot down in Nyanyadzi”. The officer is said to have fired 12 shots before the hippo died. The meat was shared by villagers. One of the villagers in Dirikwe village, Mr Tapiwa Munyati, said: “This hippo was becoming a threat to human lives in the area. It was being spotted near homes at night. “There are vegetable gardens along one of Save River’s tributaries where it was being spotted.“We were told that hippos do not like light and the danger was that lives would have been lost.” “A villager survived death by a whisker recently when the hippo strayed into his homestead.“He went out of his house to investigate when his dogs were barking. He had a torch and the hippo advanced towards him. “Fortunately he managed to escape the attack and notified other villagers and the village head. We are appealing to the responsible authorities to make sure that the remaining one is also killed,” said Mr Munyati.