The government has been urged to put a stop to illegal hunting taking place in the protected Hwange National Park, where the Environment Ministry has been accused of granting hunting quotas.
The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF) has raised concern about the illicit practice, which the group’s Chairman Johnny Rodrigues said was the result of illegal hunting licenses being handed over.
Rodrigues told SW Radio Africa that they have received a number of reports from tourists in Hwange who heard gunfire in the park. He said this backs up their investigations that have uncovered what appear to be sport hunting quotas approved by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, in areas that are protected.
“The areas are supposed to be no-hunting areas, areas that are prime tourism locations for photography and photographic safaris. But some people are being given licences to hunt and we have already lost two elephants,” Rodrigues said.
Hwange is home to Zimbabwe’s Presidential elephant herd, a unique clan of over 500 wild African elephants that roam freely on unfenced land adjoining Hwange National Park Main Camp. They are meant to be protected.
“When people’s backs are turned underhanded things continue to happen involving people who have solid government connections. We are also hearing unconfirmed reports that paying overseas hunters are once again, as did happen in previous years despite denials by the wildlife authorities, being allowed inside Hwange National Park to hunt,” Rodrigues said.
He added: “It is past time that the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources look after the wildlife that they are tasked to protect rather than assisting in its destruction, especially in such an important tourism area as Hwange and we are appalled that no progress in fixing any of the problems is evident.”
By Alex Bell, SW Radio Africa, 24 May 2013