AR-News: Illegal hunts wiping out Zimbabwe's wildlife

Animalara2003 at Animalara2003 at
Tue Nov 4 22:33:50 EST 2003

November 5, 2003

By Melanie Gosling

Zimbabwe wildlife is being slaughtered by poachers, biltong hunters and 
illegal safari operators who are taking 
advantage of the country's unsettled situation to fill their 

South Africans are believed to be among the illegal operators, as are 
Zimbabwe government officials.

Desperate environmentalists, trying to keep tabs on the illegal hunting, 
believe up to 80% of the wild animals on Zimbabwe's wildlife conservancies and 
about 60% in Zimbabwe's national parks have been wiped out.

The World Wide Fund for Nature's (WWF) Southern African regional office in 
Harare says illegal safari operators from South Africa pay small "trophy fees" 
to people who are occupying wildlife properties, which enables them to shoot 
any animals - including elephants - for meat, hides and trophies, all of which 
are exported illegally.

WWF said in a statement recently that 16 endangered black rhino and several 
elephants had been slaughtered in Matusadona and Hwange National Parks. 

They said Zimbabwe's deteriorating economy and land disputes had stimulated 
poaching for "bushmeat", and rhinos were being caught in bushmeat snares.

WWF's rhino specialist, Raoul du Toit, said while impoverished Zimbabweans 
may claim to be driven to poaching to feed themselves, unethical sport hunters 
were driven by money and thrill-seeking.

Johnny Rodrigues, chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, said 
three elephants had been shot in Hwange Estate last week.

"Last week 40 protected sable were exported. It is so easy to forge 
signatures on export permits," Rodrigues said yesterday. 

Rodrigues has lists of registration numbers of people seen hunting illegally 
in Zimbabwe, many of whom come from Limpopo province. Zimbabwe National Parks 
staff have been seen in the company of South African hunters.

Paul Bristow, who has a cattle and game farm near Beit Bridge, said two South 
Africans had moved onto his property two weeks ago to hunt for biltong and 
skins. They claimed they had been given permission by war veterans.

The Hunting Report, a newsletter for hunters published in the United States, 
has warned American hunters that safaris are being conducted illegally in 

"The illegal hunts are being conducted on lands that have been occupied by 
so-called war veterans who don't own these lands or possess the rights to 
wildlife on them. 

"The South African professional hunters are simply capitalising on the 
lawlessness and disorder in Zimbabwe," the newsletter said.

Gary Davies, chief executive director of the Professional Hunters' 
Association of SA, said yesterday he had heard reports of illegal hunting, which the 
association condemned.

"If they are our members we will take action, but so far we've only heard 
accusations and no one has come up with anything to substantiate the claims," 
Davies said.

The Cape Times was unable to get comment from Zimbabwe National Parks or the 
country's department of environment and tourism.

Tony Frost of WWF-South Africa said yesterday: "We decry in the strongest 
terms any form of illegal or unethical hunting. It is a tragedy." - Environment 

"I would not enter on my list of friends the man who needlessly sets foot 
upon a worm." - Cowper
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