Midlands Senator Lilian Timveos has demanded government action to end the plunder of Hwange National Park.
Seconding a motion brought by Matabeleland North Senator Rosemary Nyathi, Senator Timveos said urgent measures were needed to curb the growing problems at Hwange, which include the horrific slaughter of animals by poachers.
Below is her full debate:
SENATOR TIMVEOS: Thank you Madam President. I feel privileged to be debating this very important motion. I stand in support of this motion aimed at bringing sanity and peaceful co-existence between people and animals in the vicinity of Hwange National Parks. Hwange National Parks is Zimbabwe’s biggest park, occupying nearly 15000m2. It is now part of the vast and potentially lucratively Kavango.
Madam President, it is now part of the fast and potential lucrative Kavango- Zambezi or Kaza Frontier conservation area spanning five countries namely, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, Namibia and Angola. This was after the Zimbabwean Government agreed to ratify the Kaza Treaty early in June 2015. However, of late, there have been serious
conflicts in that area between people and animals as well as criminals and law enforcement authorities.
Mr. President, I am reliably informed that a few people have died recently in incidents involving elephants. On the animal side, hundreds of elephants and other animals have been killed through cyanide poisoning , shooting and other horrific methods used by poachers. Mr. President, in terms of tourism, Hwange National Park generates a significant amount of business for the country, especially because of the location which is close to Victoria Falls.
The biggest problem in the Hwange area is that communities are not stakeholders. Of all the hunting which is taking place there, the only people who are benefiting are the safari operators. What the locals do not understand is that when foreign hunters come, they kill the animals and take trophies. However, when they kill the animals for food, they are sent to prison. That is why sometimes you find some people with criminal minds poisoning the animals as what was witnessed recently. That conflict caused by such inequities must be addressed. For instance,
some fences were run down in Hwange National Park and this has created problems for humans. Therefore, Government should actually look at these fences which have broken down and make efforts to repair them so that animals can stay within the park and do not mix with humans.
We also have a problem of not having accurate statistics. The last official statistical research was done in 1997. This has created a serious management problem for ZIMPARKS because you cannot manage resources whose existence you do not know. In the media, some people have claimed that there are as many as 53 thousand elephants in Hwange and some reliable sources estimate that the figure is less than 20 thousand. Therefore, there is need for proper records so that as a country, we know how many elephants and other animals we have at Hwange National Parks.
We also need to capacitate ZIMPARKS to enable it to carry out its mandate of effectively managing our animals in Hwange. If we have excess animals, which cannot be culled, why not move them to Angola
or Botswana or any other neighbouring country. Mr. President, we need to review the policy of hunting inside the park and explore other fund-raising alternatives. Killing elephants has been abandoned by countries such as Kenya, which focuses on conserving the animals and reaping profits from direct tourism, which is now very vibrant.
Mr. President, we should also ensure that the fences are repaired. Additionally, we must try other non-harmful ways to control elephant movements such as planting the habenaria plant. I did research and I am led to understand that this plant, once it is planted, the elephants do not cross, they do not like that plant. The communities can also benefit from that plant because it can be sold in India or China and they can make a lot of money. Elephants do not like this plant, so, it can benefit the communities.
Mr. President, urgent and speedy solutions from the relevant Ministries are required if we are to keep Hwange National Park open for business. We must also ensure that communities benefit and do not get
harmed by animals. It is the Government’s duty to protect its citizens. I thank you Mr. President.