Concern over growing elephant population

The Chronicle

Robin Muchetu in Hwange
THE continued growth of elephant populations in Zimbabwe is causing serious ecological problems and serious conflicts in communities adjacent to national parks, a cabinet minister has said.

Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Mangaliso Ndlovu reiterated the need for African states to re-engage on contentious issues around wildlife conservation to come up with a hybrid set of recommendations that can be presented to the international community and solve conservation problems.

He said if left unchecked, the country would likely struggle to control the animals whose population is growing at a rate of 0.5% per year.

Minister Ndlovu was speaking on the sidelines of the African Elephant Conference in Hwange where like-minded member states with Zimbabwe are seeking solutions to the ban on trade in ivory and elephants. slaughter of elephants by the international community.

It is estimated that Zimbabwe alone has nearly 100,000 herds of elephants against five million hectares of land, or 13% of the country.

The minister said that holding the conference in the national park was important in that it was a suitable venue.

“As you know in ‘As you know, in Hwange National Park, we have almost 45,000 elephants, but in reality, the capacity is close to 15,000, which clearly shows that we are preaching to the world that if we don’t pay attention, we will continue to make decisions that are not based on reality.

Hwange National Park

In a very short period of time, we will struggle to contain the elephant situation,” he said.

“Following the president always preaching, engagement and re-engagement, we think we don’t seem to agree, let’s talk more about why people take certain positions.

If these positions are influenced by facts, we should be able to listen to them.

We strongly believe in our views and our position. We are here to share notes on these issues.

He said that President Mnangagwa had set the tone for engagement and re-engagement around many issues and wildlife management and conservation was also suited to this process before the country and the rest of the African states sharing the same ideas are traveling to Panama for the Conference of the Parties to CITES. 19 meeting in October of this year.

President Mnangagwa

The minister said communities affected by elephants must be able to tell their story in order to influence change.

“We expect communities to play a leading role, we expect us to get the perspective of people who live with these wild animals, especially elephants, how they have interacted with them and how we can continue to support communities because literally they are taking custody of this global resource so we want to make sure that communities take center stage and that’s one of our key points as we go to CITES that we need a specific segment or a permanent sub-committee that comes from their side so that their voices are heard at all times,” he said.

Traditional leaders around the national park have also raised concerns about the continued swelling of elephant populations in Zimbabwe, saying they continue to be a big threat to the communities around them as they kill people and destroy crops each year.

During the first two days of the conference, participants focused on the technical aspects of wildlife conservation issues, seeking to emphasize the importance of making science-based decisions.

“We have experts in different fields around conservation who will enrich the presentations at the meeting of the principal ministers which will take place on Thursday.

We expect to hear a lot of advice on how we can support conservation from countries that believe in sustainable conservation and from countries that believe in hunting and from those that don’t either to see how we can co-exist, how both the position can be encouraged in light of the conversation,” he added.

“We think one doesn’t necessarily come out better than the other, we just need to share experiences, we have scientists, we have people who are practical in conservation who will be doing these presentations.”

The conference will make recommendations to environment ministers on the way forward on issues to be brought to CITES later this year.

— @NyembeziMu

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