Environment, Water and Climate Minister Saviour Kasukuwere has appointed an eight-member board for Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.
The board, chaired by businessman Mr Alvin Ncube, was tasked to ensure the smooth integration of the Save Valley Conservancy into the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority’s Parks Estates and to lobby the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to enable the country to sell its huge stockpiles of ivory to support conservation efforts.
“You have come at a time when Save Valley Conservancy is now under Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and as such my expectation is to see a smooth integration of this area into mainstream Parks Estates,” he said.
Zimbabwe has around 70 tonnes stockpiles of ivory and five tonnes of rhino horn which it could not trade because of its international obligations under CITES.
“This is one area where I expect the board to lobby the world so that we can get some revenue from these stocks and be able to support our conservation efforts,” Minister Kasukuwere said.
The new board was appointed at a time when the sector was facing challenges related to mining activities, poaching, uncontrolled fires and illegal settlements within the Parks Estates.
“There is organised commercial poaching targeting species of high economic value such as elephants and rhinos. Only last year we lost over a hundred elephants to poachers in Hwange and I am happy that the perpetrators were brought to book,” the Minister said.
“What still worries me is that the major financiers for such operations are still out there.”
The new board was urged to oversee the implementation of the authority’s strategic plan and where necessary to review and align it with national aspirations spelt out in the Zim-Asset blue print.
In addition,the board was tasked to explore ways of growing the authority’s revenue base, expand and develop its strategic business units as well as strengthening its human resource base.
Minister Kasukuwere said the Government had engaged the US to lift its ban on trophy hunting which had affected the authority’s revenue generation efforts.
“I am pleased to say that we have made good progress (engaging the US) . . . Our teams have been visiting the US holding discussions with the US congress,” he said.
“We are at an advanced stage in terms of discussions and our director general is travelling next month to appear before the congressional panel which is looking at this matter.
“But we believe that the Americans will see the need to support the efforts we are taking in our conservation programmes which have actually assisted our communities and have basically seen our communities play a major part in looking after our animals.
“We are excited that engagement is bearing some fruit now,” he said.
Turning to the Save Valley Conservancy, Minister Kasukuwere refuted claims that he was tasked to remove individuals and companies that had occupied the conservancy.
“Evicting people, we failing, that is not possible, because all those people in those conservancies are there because the State allowed them to be there,” he said.
“We gave them the authority and once the State has directed them to move out, we are then going to transform its use. There is no doubt that they must comply and we have no problems.
“Those who break the law, we will not give them roses.”
Other members of the board include University of Zimbabwe Professor Gilbert Pwiti, Retired Air Vice Marshal Henry Muchena, Ms Nellie Janyika, a lawyer, Mr Wilson Mutinhima, an environmental consultant, Mr Tichafa Mundangepfupfu, a former permanent secretary, Environment, Water and Climate Ministry director Mr Irvine Kunene and the director general of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority Mr Edson Chidziya.
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