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Wildlife depletion killing tourism

It added: “Tourists are either moved or excited by the sight of a herd of elephants moving with a ponderous grace to the waterhole, or rolling in mud-baths like children at play…”

I don’t know how you will decipher this, but to me it means that the Zimbabwean government has full knowledge of our wildlife’s worth; not just to maintain an ecological balance, but also to bring in the much-needed revenue from the tourism industry. 
Considering this, it then boggles the mind when one considers the poor wildlife management tactics currently being employed in Zimbabwe, resulting in very little remaining of the wildlife that infested the country, say 20 years ago.

On their seven-day tour itinerary, Destiny Travel & Tours, a local travel and tour company wrote: “Not guaranteed is the chance to come across lions…fingers crossed for the best of luck in Africa.”

As disappointing as this might sound to someone planning to visit Zimbabwe and obviously hoping to come up-close and personal with the wildlife that is often associated with the allure of Africa, I applaud the company for their honesty!

As much as the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority would love for us to keep on believing that the country still has an abundance of wildlife, the situation on the ground spells otherwise.

However, because the wildlife audits have not been carried out in a long time, it is still difficult to say with certainty just how much wildlife is left.

A drive around the country, especially if it is through game park areas, previously guaranteed one an encounter with all sorts of animals, the Big Five included. Now, you should consider yourself very lucky to spot any one of the magnificent creatures.
When you are lucky enough to, the experience is no longer as pleasant as the animals are continually withdrawing as they now evidently perceive humans as foes.

Conservancies that used to be home to a great number of our wildlife have long been invaded by people whose motives clearly have nothing to do with wildlife conservation. Considering that these areas are in climatic region five where conventional agriculture cannot thrive owing to the extremely dry weather conditions, one would wonder why the sudden interest in these areas, if it is not for personal gain from the wildlife  resources in the areas, and the trees.

Johnny Rodrigues, chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force has reiterated on the fact that the invasions have “nothing to do with conservation” and warned that animals would continue to be killed for personal gain.

And true to Rodrigues’ word, very few of the vast number of elephants that were home at the now invaded Chiredzi River Conservancy are said to be left.

Hunting animals for the pot has been a practice that has been in place since time immemorial, but this used to be conducted in a sustainable manner. The killing of elephants and rhinoceros currently going on can only be aimed at profiteering from their tusks and horns, at the expense of our wildlife population, which is fast dwindling.

Now that we seem to have settled for destroying the wildlife resource, we might also need to settle for a serious drop in the country’s appeal and subsequently less tourists.

 

By Chipo Masara

 

For feedback, email cmasara@standard.co.zw

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