SPEECH BY THE MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENT, WATER AND CLIMATE
HONOURABLE SAVIOUR KASUKUWERE (MP)
AT THE INAUGURAL WORLD WILDLIFE DAY AND THE AFRICA ENVIRONMENT DAY COMMEMORATIONS
MAIN CAMP, HWANGE NATIONAL PARK
3 MARCH 2014
Minister of State for Provincial Affairs, Hon. Sen. C. Mathema (MP)
Minister of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Hon. H. Kalaba (MP) of Zambia
Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement, Hon. D. Mombeshora (MP)
Deputy Minister of Environment, Water and Climate, Hon. Eng. S. Musanhu (MP)
Deputy Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Hon. Brigadier Kanhanga (MP)
The Member of the Senate Hon. Sen. T. Mathuthu
Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environment and Tourism, Hon. A. Ndhlovu (MP)
The Member of Parliament for Hwange West Constituency, Hon B. Mpofu (MP)
The Member of Parliament for Hwange East Constituency, Hon. T. W. Sansole (MP)
Secretary for Environment, Water and Climate Mr. P. Mupazviriho
Chief Siphoso of Tsholotsho
Chief Matuphula of Tsholotsho
Chief Mabhikwa of Gwayi
Chief Shana of Binga
Chief Mvutu of Jambezi
Chief Hwange of Hwange
Chief Nekatambe of Lukosi-Mambanje
Chief Nelukoba of Cross Mabale
Chairman of the Wildlife Ecological Trust of Zimbabwe, Mr Gwatidzo
Heads of Government Ministries, Parastatals and State Enterprises Here Present
Councillors Here Present
Members of the Media Fraternity Here Present
Ladies and Gentlemen
Boys and Girls
The 3rd of March of each year was declared on the 20th of December 2013 by the United Nations General Assembly at its 68th session as the World Wildlife Day. Today marks inaugural World Wildlife Day Commemoration we are holding in Zimbabwe’s largest protected area, Hwange National Park, which is approximately 14 600 km2 in size.
The 3rd of March is also the day set aside by the African Union to celebrate the Africa Environment Day. The purpose of the commemoration is to raise awareness on issues pertaining to the management of the environment. Some of the biggest environmental challenges facing Africa today include loss of biodiversity, climate change, desertification, deforestation, land degradation, waste management and poaching of wildlife which affect food security, health and development. This year, we celebrate the Africa Environment Day with a focus on wildlife issues hence the joint commemoration of the day with the World Wildlife Day.
We are commemorating this day under the theme “Wildlife Protection for Community Empowerment and National Economic Development”. The thrust of the theme is to highlight the significance and potential of wildlife in contributing to the livelihoods of communities that live with wildlife as well as to national economic development. Wildlife has in the past positively contributed to our country’s economic growth, through tourism and the local developments brought about by the Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE).
As a country, we have always recognised the contribution of wildlife to sustainable development and human well-being hence our commitment to join the rest of the world in commemorating this day. The World Wildlife Day provides an opportunity to appreciate our beautiful and various forms of wild flora and fauna, to raise awareness on the benefits that wildlife provide and also, to remind the nation of the urgent need to sustain the fight against wildlife crime, which has wide ranging adverse economic, environmental and social impacts.
Wildlife is an important part of nature and its protection and conservation are a serious obligation for us all as human beings. To this end Zimbabwe has committed not less than 13 percent of its total land mass in the form of wildlife protected areas also known as the Parks Estate.
Although the primary reason for the creation of such areas is biodiversity conservation, these areas also provide many other material and non-material values to society and these include, protection of watersheds and soils, safeguarding cultural assets, homelands of indigenous peoples, supporting local and national economies, carbon dioxide sequestration, Provision of natural products, research and education, recreation and tourism and uplifting of the human spirit.
As you are all aware, wildlife is the backbone of tourism in Zimbabwe. As a country we are coordinating and supporting all stakeholders to work hard to promote wildlife-based tourism, and to market the country at both national and international fora as a safe destination.
These efforts are meant to contribute towards implementation of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Social and Sustainable Economic Transformation programme (ZIMASSERT) - The country’s economic turnaround blue print.
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like you to take note that as a country we have our share of numerous challenges in the wildlife industry and these include, commercial poaching of wildlife involving both local people and foreigners who are targeting species of high economic and conservation value, such as elephants and rhinos. In addition to the traditional poaching methods such as rifles, emergent methods of poaching of wild animals include the use of tranquilizing drugs and poisonous chemicals.
You may recall that last year we had very disturbing cases of wildlife cyanide poisoning and we lost 115 elephants in Hwange National Park and its surrounding areas. Wildlife poisoning is indeed a major threat to wildlife conservation because of its adverse impacts on other forms of biodiversity. The Government shall continue to promote polices that control the use of hazardous chemicals and dangerous weapons, and that enhance wildlife conservation.
There are resource constraints for conservation as Government has to carry out statutory obligations that are non-revenue generation such as control of wildlife raiding crop and livestock, provision of technical and extension services to the public, and wildlife research and monitoring. The resources being referred to here include manpower, transport, patrol equipment, fuel and others.
Increasing human population is putting pressure on natural resources through high demand of resources such as land for settlements be it inside and outside the parks estate. Many areas including Gonarezhou National Park, Sengwa-Chirisa, Chegutu and Charara safari areas, and some conservancies are facing pressure from human encroachment.
Inevitably, when human population increase, Human –wildlife conflicts also increase as we compete for space and food. We have lost human life, others have been maimed, crops and livestock destroyed caused by wildlife such as elephants, lions and hyenas. It is saddening that local communities are the one that bear the heaviest brunt of living with wildlife and they lack meaningful means to mitigate the impacts of problem animals.
Mining whether legal or illegal is posing threat to wildlife through displacements, and habitat modification and destruction. Mining disrupts park management programmes such as research and monitoring, adversely affects tourism, and conservation works like fire management. Mining activities range from prospecting to the actual mining of different kinds of minerals such as gold, chrome, uranium and diamond using methods such as open cast, and shaft mining.
In some cases chemicals such as mercury and cyanide are used in mineral extraction processes and these substances pollute the environment and adversely affect wildlife. Mining activities are taking place in wildlife areas such as Chewore, Dande, Mufurudzi, Mupfure, Ngezi and Chimanimani.
Uncontrolled fires are destroying our forests, wildlife habitats and wildlife in some incidents. These fires occur in the dry season and last year alone 1198 km2 which is 2% of the parks estate was lost to uncontrolled fires. The fires either originate from within the protected areas caused by poachers or from outside caused by other human activities such as clearing land for agriculture and leaving fires unattended.
Despite the challenges being faced by my country in the field of wildlife conservation, Zimbabwe has scored some achievements. Community participation and collaboration amongst all stakeholders are important factors in forging a culture of protecting our environment. Whilst the country can put in place wildlife management strategies, it is members of the communities who help to sustain the momentum of wildlife conservation. In general, the local community is supportive of wildlife conservation.
This has been facilitated by the enabling policy and legislation that created opportunities for individual property owners and communal people to manage and benefit from wildlife through Community Based Natural Resources Management Programmes. There are 58 Rural District Councils undertaking the Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) in their areas and about a quarter have meaningful programmes that are running.
Government has noted that there is room for improvement in CAMPFIRE. Zimbabwe guarantees communities living adjacent to wildlife that they will continue to benefit from such resources.
Government is currently looking at ways of remodelling and rebranding the CAMPFIRE programme so that optimum benefits are realized by the ordinary citizens of Zimbabwe. Government is interested in sustainable development through integration of natural resources conservation and rural development.
Zimbabwe is currently implementing indigenization and empowerment programmes in the wildlife sector in line with ZimAssert as I have mentioned above. The country is continuing to intensify the promotion of empowerment and indigenisation process by implementing the Wildlife Based Land Reform Policy, through promoting wildlife management outside protected areas as a viable land use option, especially where conventional agriculture is not possible or is expensive. Today the wildlife industry is one of the sectors where indigenization has been successful.
My Ministry will continue with programmes that ensure that people and wildlife live in harmony through carrying out human-wildlife conflict management programmes. Such programmes involve control of Quealea birds that destroy wheat and small grains, control of large carnivores that raid livestock and people, and control of large herbivores that raid crops, destroy property and attack and injure or kill people and control of human activities that are incompatible with conservation.
Government is urging the private sector to actively participate in the wildlife industry. Let me advise wildlife producers to form a national body to streamline their collaboration with Government.
The collaborative approach is not only important for government-private sector engagements but is also important for all of us when we stand as one at regional and international fora articulating our interests in wildlife conservation and related commerce.
As I speak now, Zimbabwe has stockpiles of 71 tons of elephant ivory and 4.9 tons of rhino horn which we cannot trade because of some international obligations under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES). Zimbabwe has abundant wildlife resources, e.g. elephants that can be disposed of as live sales for export.
The country needs to sell the ivory and horns secured in our strong rooms, and wildlife to get financial resources for conservation. This is one area where, as a nation, we should stand together and lobby the world, through platforms such as the CITES that there is need to sell these stocks in order for us to support our conservation efforts.
To our visiting fellow Minister and other countries represented here, Zimbabwe will continue to cooperate and collaborate with you to implement international agreements including the CITES and the SADC Protocol on Wildlife Protection, especially in the context of Transfrontier Conservation Areas with neighbouring countries to promote socio-economic development through tourism.
In line with today’s commemorations, conservation awareness and campaigns are my Ministry’s thrust to raise awareness among our citizens. We will continue to provide extension services and technical advice to wildlife producers. In this regard both national and international media entities are very crucial. We urge the media fraternity to help spread word about the good work citizens of this country are doing about the environment, and to be more specific about wildlife conservation.
I would like to conclude by thanking the other Governments for working with my country in dealing with environmental issues affecting humankind and wildlife. The corporate world, including companies such as Mbada Diamond, Econet, Liquid, ZIMOCO, to mention a few have done a good job by responding to Government’s call for resource support towards conservation. Various Non-Governmental Organizations foreign and locally based are urged to continue with their support as well. Other Government institutions and the local community have been a pillar for all the achievements in wildlife conservation to date.
Protect wildlife- Say no to poaching.
I thank you all.