Poaching rampant


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Poaching had become so rampant in Zimbabwe that the conservancy and hunting industry said it had lost game worth more than US $40 million since the farm and property invasions began in 2000.

In the Save Conservancy, one of the world’s largest private game sanctuaries measuring 3 400 square km, game loss and habitat destruction had reached the point where owners said they had to reconsider the future and viability of the whole project.

A total of 718 animals killed since August 2001. These included 6 wild dogs (of a total of 110), one black rhino, five elephant, 68 eland, 312 impala, 175 kudu, a leopard, 27 zebra and 52 warthogs and other smaller game.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 02HARARE1221, POACHING OF WILDLIFE IS RAMPANT IN ZIMBABWE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

02HARARE1221

2002-05-21 14:35

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

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 001221

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

STATE FOR AF/S, AF/EX, HR/OE

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER

USDOC FOR 2037 JDIEMOND

LONDON FOR CGURNEY

PARIS FOR NEARY

RIO FOR WWEISSMAN

PRETORIA FOR AG ATTACHE

PASS USTR – ROSA WHITAKER

TREASURY FOR ED BARBER AND C WILKINSON

INTERIOR FOR FWS, FWS-A1A

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: N/A

TAGS: ECON EAGR SENV ZI

SUBJECT: POACHING OF WILDLIFE IS RAMPANT IN ZIMBABWE

 

 

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED, PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.

NOT FOR INTERNET POSTING.

 

1. (SBU) Summary: The poaching of wild game, by both

commercial and subsistence hunters, has now reached

crisis proportions in Zimbabwe. Game is being

illegally taken from occupied private reserves and

conservancies, national parks, and occupied farms that

may or may not border protected game areas. The

hunting and wild game industry claims that US $40

million of game has been poached from private reserves

since the land invasions started in 2000 (based on lost

international hunting revenue). Snaring is endemic on

occupied properties including commercial farms and game

preserves, and national park boundaries are no longer

respected by rural dwellers, be it for grazing,

firewood collection or wildlife harvesting. Also

associated with the poaching is widespread destruction

of habitat, mainly deforestation, but also riparian

damage caused by illegal gold panning and unmanaged

poor farming practices. End Summary.

 

2. (SBU) Organized commercial poaching has gotten so

bad in the Zambezi Valley that the Minister of

Environment and Tourism recently announced the dispatch

of a 200-man task force of soldiers, police and

National Parks game scouts and guides to help control

the stock loss. One contact at National Parks told

Econoff that between 6 and 10 elephants were being

killed monthly in the Kariba/Zambezi Valley park

system. The situation was degenerating fast, he told

us, and he and his colleagues had pointed out to their

superiors the threat the rampant poaching poised to

Zimbabwe’s obligations under the CITES convention and

also the Trans-Boundary Park and Conservation

agreements recently signed by Zimbabwe. It was only

these factors that got action, because in many cases

the local powers-that-be share in the spoils of the

organized hunting groups.

 

3. (SBU) The commercial poachers, who are armed and

often utilize packs of dogs, target elephants and

rhinos for their trophies, and all other plains game

for their meat. The informal or subsistence poachers

target anything that moves, and use wire snares to

capture or disable their prey. A number of factors lie

behind this increased activity, and principal among

them are: the general decline in respect for law and

order engendered by GOZ-sanctioned activity against

opposition supporters in the pre- and post-election

period; the widespread invasion and occupation of

commercial farms and game reserves or conservancies

(and the associated notion that anything on the

properties is, so to speak, fair game); declining

incomes; and growing food insecurity.

 

4. (SBU) The conservancy and hunting industry tells us

that it has lost game worth more than US $40 million

since the farm and property invasions began in 2000.

Some conservancies have lost 60 percent of their

animals. The Parks Service is unable to quantify its

losses, and up until recently it was denying that a

problem even existed. Ruling party officials and

provincial authorities have been witnessed on numerous

occasions by commercial farmers and professional

hunters leading weekend sweeps in public and private

game parks, and on farms occupied by indigenous

settlers. A weekly independent newspaper recently

published details of a letter from a rural district

council chairman to the local police officer-in-charge,

seeking police transport, personnel and weapons to

shoot a dozen large plains game animals on listed and

unlisted farms to feed ZANU-PF youth militia at four

training camps located in the district. Similar

behavior, but less well documented, occurs daily we are

told.

 

5. (SBU) The head of the Save Conservancy, one of the

world’s largest private game sanctuaries (3,400 sq.

km), recently stated that game loss and habitat

destruction from settlers on designated portions of the

reserve has “reached the point where we have to

reconsider the future and viability of the whole

project. Since August 2001 we have documented a total

of 718 animals killed, including 6 wild dogs (of a

total of 110), one black rhino, five elephant, 68

eland, 312 impala, 175 kudu, a leopard, 27 zebra and 52

warthogs and other smaller game.” The undocumented

loss could easily be much larger than this count, as

large occupied areas of the conservancy have been no-go

areas for more than 18 months. At another conservancy

in the same region, an anti-poaching patrol came across

a poachers’ camp two weeks and “we caught five guys

with 34 dead warthog, and a whole bunch of sable,

antelope, bush pigs and dassies (the hyrax, a badger

relative). They’d been there for 4 days and some of

the meat was already going off, but they were still

hunting. The warthogs alone had a trophy value of US

$100-200 each.”

 

6. (SBU) Comment: Poaching has undeniably ramped up

steeply in the last year, and the head of the Wildlife

Association told Econoff that he believes that at least

20 percent of the national total herd has been taken in

the last two years. The owners of two butcher shops

that sell to the residents of high-density townships in

the small towns of Bindura and Marondera related that

over the last six months 20 to 40 percent of their meat

sales have been game, which is clearly being hunted

aggressively to supplement incomes and food needs. As

is the case with commercial agriculture, no one in

government seems particularly concerned that a national

asset is being stolen and destroyed with great

rapidity, contributing to Zimbabwe’s slide to a

distopia. End Comment.

 

SULLIVAN

 

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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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