Political Storm Threatens Conservancies

This blog post will dwell on the political situation surrounding Save` Valley Conservancy.

Background:

Government Gazette detailing Indigenisation regulations.

The Zimbabwean Government has pursued a broad policy of Indigenisation of the national economy. The mantra behind the Indigenisation policy is all foreign owned business should be 51% owned locally. The policy is aimed at economically empowering indigenous Zimbabweans (mainly black) that were disadvantaged prior to the country’s independence in April, 1980. Save` Valley Conservancy is run by private entities in partnership with foreign nationals. This puts it under the scope of indigenisation. It’s the politics surrounding the purported indigenisation of Save` which has caused an uproar locally & internationally.

Politics

The European Union has recently issued a warning over the controversy http://www.theindependent.co.zw/2012/08/31/eu-warns-zimbabwe/ . Politicians mostly from Zanu-PF (ruling party) were each granted 25 year leases & hunting permits. This raised eyebrows especially at a crucial period for Zimbabwe as it starts to prepare to jointly host next year’s United Nations World Tourism Organisation general assembly with Zambia. The manner in which the leases & hunting permits were given out were suspicious with many of the recipients having no experience whatsoever in conservancies or wildlife management.  Poaching is rampant in Zimbabwe’s national park, the fear is that with the takeover of the conservancy the rhino population will be at risk.

Conclusion:

President Robert Mugabe

President Mugabe under political pressure from moderates in his party & the E.U (European Union) threat of sanctions declared that all conservancies in the country be turned into national parks. However so far it remains to be seen whether his directive has being taken out. There are also fears that if all conservancies were to be transformed into national parks there would be a decline in standards, due to lack of govt funding as well as poaching.

What Is A conservancy?

A conservancy is an organisation dedicated to the preservation of wildlife & nature. Most conservancies are community-based meaning that members of the community ranging from, locals to farmers, politicians each have a stake and benefit from the natural resources.

Conservancies are non-profit organisations & don’t require one to manage large extracts of land like national parks. They can be of any size and preserve anything, it doesn’t need to be wild animals.

History

Image

The first conservancy was established in 1978 in South Africa. Formed by a group of local farmers with assistance from the national parks board, the objective of the group was to protect wild animals on the farmlands. This became the first case of an organisation/ group of people to protect & preserve natural areas outside of formally protected zones. Since then conservancies have sprung up around the globe but mainly in Africa.

Conservancies derive income through many activities such as wildlife hunting or game viewing. The income from tourists & trophy hunters ensures that the cost of operating a conservancy is not economically tenuous. The money is then re-invested in the project thus ensuring the protection of the natural habitat & continuation of the conservancy.