Environment, Water and Climate minister Saviour Kasukuwere has said Zimbabwe will continue to export its elephants to China as long as they met CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) requirements because the current jumbo herd was double the country’s carrying capacity.
Kasukuwere told Senate on Thursday that the country had 83 000 elephants which was double the limit at most of its game parks.
“The huge number of elephants continues to place a burden to communities to the extent elephants are walking around at Tsholotsho shopping centre, and we think it is important for our communities to survive on their resources hence we are allowed to export elephants to anywhere in the world as long as we satisfy CITES conditions,” Kasukuwere said.
“This will not change the number of elephants we have and if we deprive the communities looking after our herd they are likely to turn to poaching. We are more than ready to sell to African countries. We have excess black rhinos and we can sell to any country but it is subject to us making sure we are within CITES,” Kasukuwere replied. Kasukuwere said it was illegal to kill pythons and lions for medicinal purposes.
International animal rights activists recently rapped government for exporting its jumbos to Asia.
Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa said government was financially constrained to set up provincial councils as required by the Constitution.
“The Executive is anxious to implement that, but it requires resources. It will not be prudent to implement it and then fail to pay salaries of the people we chose to belong to those councils,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kasukuwere said Zimbabwe continued to face a mixture of challenges in wildlife conservation particularly poaching of wildlife, perpetrated by syndicates linked to organised crime and illegal wildlife trade.
Speaking at the World Wildlife Day and African Environment Day in Kariba on Thursday, Kasukuwere warned that government will not allow poachers to continue their inhumane killing of our endangered species.
“God gave us the power to protect our wildlife and we will fight the war with all our might because our wildlife forms part of the natural resources and wealth that must benefit the people of Zimbabwe,” he said.
Kasukuwere said water bodies were also under attack from poachers.
“Our own Lake Kariba is under siege from fish poachers who have resorted to illegal harvesting in breeding areas, unlicensed individuals manufacturing Kapenta rigs and fishing without permits, use of illegal fishing gear as well as unscrupulous people who have resorted to buying fish from kapenta rigs before they have been declared to their owners,” he said. “Such practices cannot be allowed to continue and constitute theft. I call upon law enforcers to deal with such acts ruthlessly.”