UNDP avails anti-poaching war chest
SENIOR STAFF WRITER
THE United Nations Development Programme Zimbabwe (UNDP) has availed US$289 000 to assist the country in wildlife conservation, amid growing concerns that the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic has increased illegal activities, including poaching, the Daily News can report.
This comes as local authorities including the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and The Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) have noted a surge in wildlife animals including lions, elephants, and rhinos being killed for poaching purposes since the start of the Covid-19 national lockdown.
“The Covid-19 pandemic across the region has shown an increase in challenges of poaching and as result, there is need for more support in the conservation of wildlife in the Zambezi Valley. Currently there is a funding gap to support critical operations such as anti-poaching surveillance and monitoring of wildlife populations.
“The UNDP, with support from Global Environment Facility (GEF), has facilitated the purchase of seven vehicles for ranger patrols, and 11 tractors for veld fire management. In addition, the project will support the purchase of patrol rations, fuel, drones and boats for a combined total of US $289 000,” UNDP Zimbabwe resident representative Georges van Montfort.
Montfort added that the key challenges being faced in the country include wildlife poaching, deforestation, land degradation and human-wildlife conflict.
“In Zimbabwe, between January and February, three elephants were killed by poachers, but since the beginning of the lockdown, at least seven elephants have been lost in the Hwange National Park and Bubye Conservancy.
“In April 2020, at least 78 bags of charcoal, packed in 50kg bags and 13 cubic metres of firewood were confiscated from poachers.
“Two white rhinos were also killed in April, although the poaching incidents were not reported publicly.
“Lions and buffaloes were also among some of the animals that were killed in April in these areas,” Montfort said.
Meanwhile, Environment minister Mangaliso Ndlovu acknowledged these issues and the importance of support from partners during his remarks, saying the funding comes at a time when the government has intensified its conservation efforts and scaled up anti-poaching activities after indications of an upsurge of poaching attempts.
“The pandemic is a reminder of the threats we face when the environment and nature are undermined. However, this is also a wake-up call that despite large-scale poaching and destruction of habitats, if we give nature a chance and conserve it, it has the ability to regrow,” said Ndlovu.