THE Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) said on Wednesday international poaching syndicates were behind a scourge of poaching that has afflicted Zimbabwe in the two years.
Animals worth millions of United States dollars have been slaughtered in a frenzy of poaching that has unsettled authorities and wildlife conservationists.
Poachers have run riot in Zimbabwe’s wildlife estates since 2013, when over 300 elephants were killed by poachers through cyanide poisoning in Hwange National Park.
After two years of a return to stability in the national park, poaching resurfaced again this year.
Government estimates that about 70 elephants have been killed through poisoning of waterholes since January, and unless concrete steps to stem the crisis are taken, the number could sharply rise.
The fresh wave of killings have sparked debate over the culprits behind the mindless slaughter of the country’s elephant herd, estimated at 83 000.
But there have been recent allegations that influential members of society, including members of the police, were part of the syndicates that are now feared could drive some wildlife species to extinction.
The police have denied that its members are involved.
But CAMPFIRE director, Charles Jonga told reporters in Harare on Wednesday that global poaching syndicates were wrecking havoc in Zimbabwe’s forests.
“We know that these are international syndicates,” Jonga said after receiving a US$20 000 donation from beverages giant, Delta, to boost wildlife conservation efforts.
“We had the first poisoning in 2013. It has resurfaced again and it has brought questions again about who is doing what. This year has been a particularly difficult year. The current scourge of internationally sponsored poaching should be arrested,” said Jonga.
Targeted animals include elephants, lions and rhinos, which are facing near extinction in Zimbabwe.
He said the CAMPFIRE programme was directly and indirectly supporting about 2,5 million people, and that wild animals were the bedrock of the programme.
The CAMPFIRE boss said the US$20 000 donated by delta would be used in the production of high quality data to improve wildlife protection programmes.