Government efforts in curbing poaching in the Zambezi Valley – complemented by various parties – continue to yield positive results with crime going down significantly since 2016.
In its quarterly bulletin released recently, the Zambezi Society said the volunteer anti-poaching initiative to support the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) had seen number of elephants killed by poachers dropping in the past three years
The number of elephants known to have been poached dropped by 61 percent in 2017 before going down by a further 36 percent last year.
The initiative also saw 11 cases of ivory being concluded with criminals receiving nine-year sentences while another two cases had 10-year sentences.
In an interview, Zimparks spokesperson Mr Tinashe Farawo paid tribute to the relationship between the wildlife authority and its partners including the new strategies introduced by management.
“The most important thing is the partnerships we have built over the years with our partners while the coming in of our director general has boosted cooperation with partners.
“Since the coming in of Mr Fulton Upenyu Mangwanya as the Zimparks director-general, we have recorded a positive trend on anti-poaching especially on law enforcement,” Mr Farawo said.
He said the new management had introduced various courses including intelligence and information gathering, and use of weapons among others which have been very effective.
“This has also helped us in that if one is found in a protected area, our rangers will not hesitate to shoot and the same applies when they are shot at,” he said.
Mr Farawo said while more resources are needed in law enforcement to protect animals from poachers, Zimparks had increased patrols, and radio communication.
“The new management has increased the vehicle fleet for patrols; more are needed,” he said. In curbing poaching along the Zambezi Valley, two poachers believed to be foreigners were shot dead and there has also been increased joint patrols with regional counterparts in Zambia.
Meanwhile, the Zambezi Society said the volunteer anti-poaching drive was driven by an adaptive Elephant Management Plan headed by Zimparks with input from conservation support organisations and other stakeholders.
“This has built a valuable degree of trust between the public and private sector and has received very positive feedback,” the society said.
This, the society said, has resulted in a significant reduction in elephant poaching, a sharp change upwards in wildlife crime prosecutions and successful convictions for poaching and a major improvement in collaboration and trust the public and private sector.