Safari operators optimistic, set US$100 million target (Zimbabwe)


Zimbabwe Independent

Date Published

The Safari Operators’ Association of Zimbabwe (Soaz) has set a revenue target of more than US$100 million for the 2017 season buoyed by a favourable outcome of the Cites convention meeting held last year.

Soaz chairperson Emmanuel Fundira told businessdigest on Tuesday that by successfully retaining both the elephant and lion on Appendix 11 at the Cites convention last year, he expected revenues to improve this season.

“Unlike last year when revenues dropped by 30%, the positive development will enable us to claw back on lost ground and increase targeted earnings to more than US$100 million,” Fundira said.

He said there had been an intensive lobby to have the two animals removed from Appendix 11, which lists species that are not necessarily now threatened with extinction but that may become so unless trade is closely controlled, to Appendix 1. This particular appendix lists species that are the most endangered among Cites-listed animals and plants. The trade of animals under Appendix 1 is prohibited by Cites which would have had a devastating impact on Zimbabwe.

“This (retention of the elephant and the lion on Appendix 11) means therefore that Zimbabwe has an edge over all others with regards the ability to offer the Big Five to our safari clients,” Fundira said.

He said the change in administration in the United States has reignited hopes that the ivory ban imposed on Zimbabwe in 2014 will be lifted.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced the suspension on imports of sport-hunted African elephant trophies taken in Tanzania and Zimbabwe, arguing that there has a been a significant decline in the population of elephants in both countries.

“The change of administration in the US has ushered hope and positive signals that the ban imposed by USFWS may be rescinded,” Fundira told businessdigest. “USFWS have confirmed receipt of all supporting documents with regards NDF (Non-Detrimental Findings) on elephant and the growth of our elephant populations is a good measure and result of successful conservation methods. The relaxation of the ban will increase US market uptake, which translates into higher revenues.”