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Govt thumbs down mining in wildlife conservancies

travelling & touring:with Burzil Dube

THE unanimous decision by govern to immediately ban all mining activities within national parks will certainly go a long way in bringing sanity in the country’s national parks which could have gradually degenerated into chaos.

According to a recent report in The Zimbabwe Independent, cabinet unanimously shot down a request by Environment and Tourism minister Mangaliso Ndlovu to regulate all illegal mining activities currently taking place in the country’s game parks.

This comes at a time when some individuals have in the past occupied animal recreation parks in search of minerals such as gold.

Environmental degradation in some “invaded” national parks is somehow rampant and rehabilitation is only a pipe dream with the poor wild animals being at risk of decimation.

Others could be “exported” due to their huge demand in foreign markets whose proceeds will never be channeled to the respective animal conservancies.

The newspaper reported that the minister tried to form a tag team with his Mines and Mining Development counterpart Winston Chitando, but failed to convince their determined cabinet colleagues.

The duo were, however, advised to put their house in order and try to come up with innovative ways in terms of wildlife conservation.

The Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) has in the past been charging US$4 000 and proceeds were “meant” for environmental reclamation.

This was also meant to regulate and in the process try to eradicate rampant illegal mining activities.

Without pointing an accusing finger, some mining activities situated in or on the fringes of national parks are yet to show commitment in terms of minimising or curbing environmental degradation.

Yours truly would have dwelt on some mining activities that are currently happening around Hwange district.

However, I have decided to let the sleeping dogs continue taking a nap lest one could be accused of being vindictive to some of these mining entities.

However, if one is to call a spade by its actual definition, then both the habitat and ecosystem in this district are gradually destined to the dustbin of history. Wild animals are also staring extinction at alarming proportions.

This particular district is home to Hwange National Park, the country’s largest wildlife sanctuary and a favourite with various types of both local and foreign tourists.

Can one imagine or visualise individuals being allowed to extract minerals in the Great Zimbabwe shrine in Masvingo or at the popular Nyamandlovu or Guvalala viewing platforms?

These two platforms are among the several animal viewing wooden-made daises strategically scattered at watering points in the iconic Hwange National Park.

The platforms are situated atop watering holes where all sorts of animals, including birds, converge after travelling several kilometres in search of the precious life-saving liquid.

A similar situation may also apply if an individual was to be granted permission to extract minerals in the Great Enclosure at the Great Zimbabwe monument.

The enclosure is believed to be the largest ancient structure in sub-Saharan Africa whose mortar-less walls’ height is about 11 metres and it is believed to have served as a royal compound.

It would be a sad day in the tourism industry if one was to wake up one day only to realise that such a place has now been turned into some form of mining area.

Yours truly is yet to come across a mining entity that would have rehabilitated its mined-out area in a national park, let alone having contributed to wildlife conservation. Wanton poaching would be the order of the day without any tangible solution in sight.

It is rather disheartening to read that mining activities had already been “regularised” in some national parks in areas such as Chegutu, Matopos and Umpfurudzi, which are said to boast of gold deposits.

In the same cabinet meeting which has been mentioned earlier, former Environment minister (now Defence and War Veterans minister) Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri urged Zimparks to come up with innovative ways as part of efforts on conserving its flora and fauna. Wise words indeed!

This does not need a rocket scientist to deduce that the country is in dire need of resuscitating the hospitality industry which is currently under the Covid-19 intensive care.

Who would take this country seriously if we deliberately start doling out some form of mining licences within animal sanctuaries and acclaimed heritage sites?
Apologies as yours truly is just thinking aloud.

Once again before signing off, my mail inbox is currently “overflowing” with requests to move with haste on the Lemba/Remba/Mwenye tribe whose claim of Jewish origin has set tongues wagging.

Their ancestors are said to have played a pivotal role in the construction of the biblical Noah’s Ark found in Book of Genesis verses 6 to 9.

Yours truly is in the process of tying a few loose ends on this issue and it is just a matter of time before everything is well articulated.
Till we meet again in the next column.

l Comments always welcome on: dubebasill@gmail.com

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