American owned ranch in Save under threat


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A United States embassy official had to spend two days at Hammond Ranch in the Save Valley Conservancy area after the owner, George Hulme, a United States citizen, said his farm was under threat.

Hulme said although the government had not advocated the takeover of his farm, part of the Save Valley Conservancy, settlers from the local communal lands now controlled conservancy land on the two sides of Hammond Ranch.

The settlers were frequently crossing into Hammond Ranch to poach and in some cases set up fires to limit the ground where animals could forage, making poaching much easier.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 04HARARE2051, SAVE VALLEY: STRUGGLING TO HOLD ON

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE2051

2004-12-17 09:46

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 002051

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR BNEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVELLE, D. TEITELBAUM

USDOC FOR ROBERT TELCHIN, TREASURY FOR OREN WYCHE-SHAW,

STATE PASS USAID FOR MARJORIE COPSON, STATE PASS USDOI/FWS

FOR RICHARD RUGGIERO

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: SENV EAID ECON PGOV ZI

SUBJECT: SAVE VALLEY: STRUGGLING TO HOLD ON

 

SUBJECT: SAVE VALLEY: STRUGGLING TO HOLD ON

 

1. (SBU) Summary: Hammond Ranch, an American-owned property

in a southeastern Zimbabwe nature conservancy, remains

threatened by the continuing encroachment of settlers

encouraged by GOZ land reform policies. The conservancy

still hopes to reach an agreement with the settlers that will

save one of Africa,s key wildlife sanctuaries. End Summary

 

————————-

SETTLERS AND LAND REFORM

————————-

 

2. (SBU) EconOff recently spent two days with George Hulme,

the manager of Hammond Ranch (one of 27 properties which make

up Africa,s largest private wildlife sanctuary, Save Valley

Conservancy). Hulme explained that settlers from local

communal lands and beyond now control conservancy lands on

two sides of Hammond Ranch. Although the GOZ has not

advocated the takeover, settlers have been encouraged by the

general tenor of GOZ land reform policies. However, due to

their inability to grow enough food to subsist on their new

farms, Hulme said the settlers frequently cross onto Hammond

Ranch property to poach, including setting fires to limit the

ground where the animals can forage, making poaching that

much easier.

 

3. (SBU) Beyond Hammond Ranch, Hulme said, settlers now

threaten to split the Save Valley Conservancy (SVC) in two as

those who settled on the eastern and western sides have

migrated toward the SVC,s center. If this occurs, wildlife

would have less space in which to live and the southern

portion of SVC would be in danger of complete takeover by

settlers. (N.B. Thus far, no settlers have moved into the

northern section of the conservancy.).

 

4. (SBU) Hulme said another trouble spot is the Sabi River,

which runs the length of SVC,s Eastern edge. The SVC and

the commercial farmers who had owned the land East of the

river came to an agreement that the entire river would belong

to SVC. The commercial farmers had had their own irrigation

systems and did not need the river for their crops. However,

the new settlers on these properties now demand access to the

river. Hulme expressed optimism that Hammond Ranch,s

historic good ties with the local communal peoples will stall

any takeover, and noted that SVC as a whole continues to

assist local communities and even settlers to eke out a

living.

 

5. (SBU) Commenting on the GOZ,s new wildlife policy

announced earlier this year, Hulme said a 25 year lease-hold

was too short a time for anyone to recoup a profit from the

massive investment needed. The GOZ recently set up a

committee from Masvingo province (where the SVC is located)

to negotiate new terms. However, according to Hulme, these

negotiations have now broken down with no new talks scheduled

before the March parliamentary elections.

 

—————————-

ELEPHANTS AND OTHER ANIMALS

—————————-

 

6. (SBU) While a longer-term problem, Hulme noted that the

burgeoning elephant population was also a threat to the

conservancy. With no real natural predators and long life

spans (50-60 years), elephants eat a disproportionate share

of the food base and have begun crowding out other animals.

Hulme told EconOff that no general SVC policy is in place,

but SVC technical committees are working on potential

solutions- that may include culling the herd or sending

elephants to other conservation areas in Zimbabwe or other

countries. However, he said culling the herd would only

occur if Zimbabwe could export the ivory from the tusks

(which would require a special exemption from the Convention

on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna

and flora). (N.B. Most other parks in Zimbabwe also have too

many elephants and the costs of transporting them outside of

Zimbabwe are astronomical.)

 

7. (SBU) Like other SVC properties, Hammond Ranch survives on

hunting safaris. Hulme told EconOff that many of the

individual property owners would prefer to conduct only

photographic safari tourism, but that those tourists are just

not coming in sufficient numbers. In fact, he said, Hammond

Ranch,s only photo tourism business for 2004 consisted of

friends of the owners and Embassy personnel.

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

8. (SBU) With invading settlers and falling tourism

squeezing them, the managers and owners of SVC are

nonetheless continuing their passionate efforts to save

African wildlife. In the end, Hulme and others can only hope

that a negotiated settlement will be reached before it

becomes too late to save the conservancy.

DELL

 

(30 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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