Conservancies The Future?

Hi, I went to the same secondary school (Peterhouse Boys)  of the documentary filmmaker [Dan Calderwood was 5 yrs my senior]. In my last blog entry i wrote about politicians who were engaging in poaching & what risks it posed to conservancies & wildlife parks. This short documentary highlights how rhino’s are being hunted to near extinction.

As of the latest news there has been no respite for Save` Valley Conservancy. Even though the President has condemned the actions of those involved and called for all conservancies to be turned into national parks. Evidence on the ground suggests little action, more like rhetoric from politicians trying to score points.   http://allafrica.com/stories/201210270153.html <— This report details the on-goings happening in Save Conservancy.

Shuvai Mahofa referred to as the “Iron Lady”.

One of the ZANU PF ‘beneficiaries’ of conservancy land leases and hunting licences is reportedly being investigated for poaching, as the future of the Save Valley Conservancy remains unclear.

 

Former ZANU PF Minister and ‘war vet’ Shuvai Mahofa, referred to as the Masvingo ‘Iron Lady’, is reportedly being investigated after a butchery she allegedly runs in Gutu was raided by police. According to a NewsDay article, three buffalo carcasses and other game meat was discovered.

 

Mahofa was one of a group of mainly ZANU PF linked individuals who were granted a hunting licence by National Parks in August. She and the group of so-called ‘indigenous farmers’ were given the licences and 25 year land leases as part of the ZANU PF led indigenisation campaign.

What then is the future of conservancies? In particular Save` Valley conservancy which is the world’s largest.  Johnny Rodrigues, the chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force has proposed that all leases should be withdrawn & a putt a moratorium on all hunting activities. Mr Rodrigues thinks this will provide the best solution. He describes the plans to turn the conservancy into a national park  as trying to “hoodwink” people ahead of the U.N.T.W.O meeting taking place next year.  My views on this matter is that little will be done without some political pressure from entities i.e the E.U (threat of Sanctions) or trying to save face ahead of the 2013 U.N.T.W.O meeting taking place in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

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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.

Save` Valley Conservancy

This blog post is going to diverge from my first post where i talked about what a conservancy is, and what functions they perform.

History

The Save` Valley Conservancy was formed 11 years after independence in 1991 with the approval of the Zimbabwe Government, National Parks, assisted by WWF and Beit Trust. The area previously was used for cattle ranching, as the livestock grew the environment deteriorated. Overgrazing caused degradation of topsoil and loss of all the fertile vegetation. This resulted in the landscape now becoming unproductive which brought the cattle-ranching industry to a standstill.

Present

A conservation strategy from  Zimbabwe’s Department of national parks & wildlife management came up with the formation of Save` Valley conservancy. The conservancy  focused mainly on protecting black rhino and with a growing awareness of endangered species & eco-tourism, a conservancy offered an ideal solution. The main goal of Save` Valley conservancy was to restore the lands natural vegetation state while protecting black rhino’s from extinction. Today the conservation is highly successful with a high range of bio-diversity and restoration of natural ecosystems.

Game rangers & staff dehorning a rhino to prevent poachers from killing it to get the horn.

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.