Ladies and gentlemen allow me to express my singular honor and gratitude as I humbly take this opportunity to welcome you all to this important event which marks the end of a 22 days Ranger training in basic tracking. This is just, but part of an ongoing series of training opportunities which started at Chipinge IPZ sometime last year and is meant to spread to other areas of need. Today we stand here to witness the completion of such an important course in which twenty seven Rangers mostly from Matopos National Park have gone through.
The intensive and energy demanding course took our Rangers through basic tracking, weaponry, bush craft, map reading, physical training as well as radio communication. It is my utmost conviction that such training has prepared the graduands well enough to be able to discharge their anti poaching duties with a high degree of diligence, decisiveness as well as professionalism.
Poaching or illegal hunting of wildlife, especially the Rhino, both Black and White is proving to be a threat especially to the surviving populations. Zimbabwe, although being rated as one of the largest Rhino range states on the continent, has been challenged with an ever increasing number of commercial rhino poaching incidents.
Through resolve and commitment to the protection of our rhinos, Government continues to undertake programmes such as anti-poaching, dehorning, translocation of animals , translocation of animals from high threat areas to low threat areas, radio tracking and on-going and comprehensive training of Rangers, as well as the involvement of our stakeholders.
As we may all be aware, Matopos is one of our Intensive Protection Zones (I.P.Zs) meant to accord special protection to the countryâ€™s remaining rhino population in order to enhance breeding of the species. As such we are more than prepared to channel resources towards meeting this objective.
That be as it may, it is encouraging to note that we continue to uphold high standards in the field of conservation despite the macro economic challenges we continue to operate under as a country. It is in this vein that we continue to appeal to every Zimbabwean to join hands with us in this endeavor.
We are looking forward to extending this kind of training to all areas of the Parks Estate in Zimbabwe including but not limited to where we have rhinos. Whilst it is true that our Rhinos are under threat from illegal hunters for commercial reasons, it is equally true that other species such as the elephant and the zebra are also under threat from poaching syndicates.
Therefore the focus of the Authority is to continue to equip our men on the ground with the requisite tool kits as well as skills so that they stay on top of the ever changing and sometimes sophisticated commercial poaching techniques.
To the graduands I would like to assure you that the Organisation is proud of you as it has entrusted you with the proper management and utilization of the wildlife resources on behalf of the nation. This kind of training to us is a great investment as we value our human resource.
As some of us are getting old and preparing to hand over the button stick of conservation, we must rest assured that we leave the wildlife heritage in safe hands hence the need to start practicing improved and adaptive principles of conservation now.
We urge you all to shun corruption, connivance with poachers as well as misuse of Authority assets. Let me hasten to warn you that the Authority will not take lightly to any form of misconduct or malpractices and as such will not hesitate to take appropriate remedial action by applying the disciplinary machinery within its policy.
We continue to look forward to your creativity, innovation and positive thinking to help overcome some if not all of the challenges that the organisation is faced with. It is our hope that you will continue to shine and lead by example as you impart the knowledge you have gained to others within the whole organisation.
Allow me Ladies and Gentlemen, at this juncture to acknowledge the invaluable support we continue to receive from our key partners such as the Zimbabwe Republic Police and other law enforcement agencies of Government. Our conservation goals cannot be realized without such support from all our stakeholders both within and outside Zimbabwe.
Today we stand here to witness a positive partnership and concerted efforts between Parks and AWARE TRUST who through their representatives Peter and Bryce Clemence have facilitated this training program.
It is also worth mentioning that Dambari Trust also continues to play an important role in supporting with resources which have had a great significance to our conservation efforts. We also greatly appreciate the unwavering support we get from SAVE Australia through their President Nicholas Duncan.
We would also like to thank the area Manager Matopos National park as well as the Regional manager for all the logistical support that enabled this training to be a success.
As for all our cooperating partners (public, private, community and NGOs), let me say we look forward to a continued mutually beneficial working relationship as we move together in an effort to improve conservation, ourselves and the country at large.
Let us all go out there and make sure that we put poachers out of business.
Finally, I say CONGRATULATIONS, MAKOROKOTO AMHLOPHE for a job well done to our rangers, their managers and their trainers. ALUTA CONTINUA !