There is money in wildlife


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Zimbabwe’s economic future was tied to a large extent to wildlife preservation in national parks and conservancies so as settlers moved onto national park and conservancy lands, the space for wildlife decreased and the flora and fauna required for their survival disappeared. 

This was the view former United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Joseph Sullivan who was fighting to make sure that the Save Conservancy, where at least one of the owners was an American citizen, was not parcelled out to local farmers.

Sullivan said Zimbabwe still retained some of its previously exemplary wildlife management structures but this knowledge base was disappearing rapidly through infrastructure degradation, emigration, and continued haphazard land acquisition and usage policies.

Indeed there was money to be made through wildlife as one of the employees of the Department, Thomas Chimedza was reportedly being investigated following reports that he had made a $55 million deal with a well-known safari operator and certain South African safari companies, including Out of Africa, for illegal hunting in Matetsi.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 04HARARE1210, WORKING WITH WILDLIFE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE1210

2004-07-22 08:41

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 001210

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

STATE FOR AF/S

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER

USDOC FOR AMANDA HILLIGAS

TREASURY FOR OREN WYCHE-SHAW

PASS USTR FLORIZELLE LISER

STATE PASS USAID FOR MARJORIE COPSON

STATE PASS USDOI/FWS FOR KARL STROMEYER

 

E. O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: SENV EAID BTIO EINV ECON PGOV ZI

SUBJECT: WORKING WITH WILDLIFE

 

1. (SBU) Summary: As expected, perspectives of the World

Wildlife Fund differ from GOZ’s National Parks and

Wildlife Authority on the state of wildlife,

conservancies, land nationalization, and the proposed

Trans-Frontier Park. Despite National Parks’ positive

picture, the once exemplary wildlife management regime is

rapidly degrading due to mismanagement and emigration of

experienced persons. End summary.

 

2. (SBU) EconOff spoke with Raoul DuToit of the World

Wildlife Fund and Dr. M.Z. Mtsambiwa, Director General of

the National Parks and Wildlife Authority, about the

environmental situation in Zimbabwe. DuToit was generally

pessimistic and Mtsambiwa optimistic about his agency and

GOZ’s ability to manage wildlife and reluctant to engage

frankly with the Embassy.

 

THE CONSERVANCIES

——————

3. (SBU) Settlers have encroached upon large sections of

Save Valley Conservancy’s southern portion while the

northern section has been spared thus far. Poaching,

while continuing, is not a big issue as settlers who have

moved cattle onto the land are no longer putting up

snares. In addition, wildlife in the settled areas have

either already been killed or moved. DuToit, who visited

conservancy areas in May and June 2004, believes Save

Valley’s natural animal replacement levels make up for

the poaching and settlement losses.

 

4. (SBU) Chiredzi River Conservancy has poaching camps

in the north and individuals cutting down trees to sell

as firewood in the south. Poaching of animals in this

area is exceeding natural replacement levels. There are

also settlements scattered throughout.

 

5. (SBU) Settlers have taken over virtually the entire

northern section of Bubiana Conservancy. Within the last

month, a group of settlers invaded the Ripple Creek area.

Fortunately, authorities removed them. However, the

settlers appeared very well organized, wearing identical

T-shirts with Third Chimurenga (a ZANU-PF war veteran

motto) on them.

 

INVESTIGATIONS

—————

6. (SBU) According to the July 16, 2004 Zimbabwe

Independent, The National Parks and Wildlife Authority’s

Matetsi area Warden, Thomas Chimedza, apparently made a

$55 million deal with a well-known safari operator and

certain South African safari companies, including Out of

Africa, for illegal hunting in Matetsi.

 

7. (SBU) National Parks Director of Operations Vitalis

Chadenga is also reportedly under investigation regarding

various deals for moving and hunting sable.

 

8. (SBU) Dr. Mtsambiwa would not comment about on-going

investigations, except to say that all who violate their

duties will be prosecuted vigorously. He also mentioned

that at least one case has been forwarded on to the

police (although he would not specify which case).

 

LAND NATIONALIZATION

———————

9. (SBU) Kenya wants to upgrade all lions to Appendix I

of the CITES regime based upon a research study done in

Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. Lions were shown to be

over-hunted. DuToit mentioned the ramifications regarding

hunting trophies should lions receive the extra

protection and GOZ fail to meet its obligations. Chadenga

was infuriated and proceeded to rant about how this was a

plot by the West to get back at Zimbabwe for land reform.

 

10. (SBU) Mtsambiwa contradicted DuToit on the Kenya

request, stating that lions in southern Africa are faring

very well and should not be listed on Appendix I. If

Kenya feels that lions are not doing well in East Africa,

then only those lions should be added to Appendix I. He

mentioned nothing about the study in Hwange.

 

11. (SBU) Mtsambiwa also suggested that international

hunters from the West and South Africa colluded with

former farmers to destroy wildlife. This, he argued, was

a means to get back at Zimbabwe for land reform. He also

expressed concern about subsistence killing of wildlife.

 

12. (SBU) NGOs who were involved in the pre-policy

discussions over land nationalization are looking to

publicly protest GOZ’s announced position of 99-year and

25-year leases. DuToit said GOZ is using the NGOs as

window dressing to support a policy that veers away from

the principles initially agreed upon.

 

13. (SBU) Mtsambiwa expressed optimism that the 25-year

lease scheme could work very well. He pointed out that

hunting safari operators currently operate under

renewable 5-year concessions and turn profits. He saw no

problem with using the 25-year leases as collateral for

capital investments. However, he did acknowledge that the

National Parks would have to increase patrols and

watchdog operations to ensure individual lessees do not

take what they can from the land and leave nothing for

the next tenants. Mtsambiwa suggested that 10 years was

enough time to profit from a wildlife safari business.

 

TRANS-FRONTIER PARK

———————

14. (SBU) The June 25 Zimbabwe Independent reported on

the postponement of a national coordinator for the

Transfrontier National Park. Then, on July 4, 2004, the

Sunday Mail reported on National Parks’ moving ahead with

infrastructure improvements in Gonarezhou National Park.

 

15. (SBU) Mtsambiwa explained the apparent reversal of

policy as an administrative matter. He explained that

the initial job offer for the coordinator position was

only advertised within the National Parks offices and

there were not any qualified applicants. The delay in

appointment was to allow a wider circulation of the job

announcement. He assured EconOff that the position has

now been filled and three deputy regional coordinators

would seek other trans-frontier parks along the border.

 

16. (SBU) The National Parks have Z$1.2 billion (approx.

US$226,415) for renovations and improvements at

Gonarezhou National Park. This money will be evenly

divided between electrification, road improvements, and

building of staff houses and tourist camps. Mtsambiwa

stated the National Parks needed about Z$6 billion

(approx. US$1,132,075) to complete the renovations.

 

17. (SBU) DuToit raised concerns about GOZ’s ability

to participate equally with South Africa and Mozambique

to create the large wildlife area. He also mentioned

issues regarding each country’s desire to keep out

wildlife diseases of the other countries. Mtsambiwa only

said that a special veterinary committee is looking into

the problems of cross-spreading diseases.

 

18. (SBU) COMMENT: Zimbabwe’s economic future is tied to

a large extent to wildlife preservation in national parks

and conservancies. Despite Mtsambiwa’s upbeat assessment,

chaotic land reform and GOZ underfunding have caused a

significant decline in wildlife. As settlers move onto

national park and conservancy lands, the space for

wildlife decreases and the flora and fauna required for

their survival disappears. Zimbabwe still retains some of

its previously exemplary wildlife management structures.

However, this knowledge base is disappearing rapidly

through infrastructure degradation, emigration, and

continued haphazard GOZ land acquisition and usage

policies.

 

Sullivan

 

(20 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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