By Alex Bell
23 August 2012
The deliberate poisoning of animals in the Chiredzi River Conservancy is on the rise, with no legal action being taken against the known poachers responsible.
SW Radio Africa has been told that the carcasses of scores of animals have been found in recent weeks, adding to the growing numbers of wildlife who have suffered a similar fate in recent years.
The people responsible are known poachers in the Conservancy who have previously been caught by police. But their cases have never been heard because the police either release them from custody, or their dockets go ‘missing’.
Johnny Rodrigues, the chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, told SW Radio Africa on Thursday that poison is also being used as an “intimidatory tactic” by people trying to force the legitimate owners of conservancy land to handover their properties. He said it forms part of the larger problem that conservancy land is being targeted for ‘reform’, despite this being illegal.
“The acts are there to protect the animals and the conservancies, but there is no one to apply these laws. Now you’ve got a scenario where the guardians of the country’s wildlife have sanctioned hunting and are giving licences to trigger happy people who don’t know anything about hunting and ultimately it is the animals that suffer,” Rodrigues said.
Hunting licences in the Save Valley Conservancy have been handed out to top ZANU PF officials, as part of what Rodrigues says is “appeasement by the government where the party faithful are rewarded.”
An international tourism conference is supposed to get underway in Victoria Falls next month. But Rodrigues said the worsening poaching and the ongoing seizure of conservancy land makes it “embarrassing” that Zimbabwe is the host.
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