Roar Africa

Exploring Africa Since 1688

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Zimbabwe and Ivory poaching

Death is the price that the world's biggest land mammals are paying for their tusks, which have a lucrative international market. Is Zimbabwe's parks authority sufficiently equipped to effectively curb poaching activities, especially given the fact that poachers are coming into the country with far more sophisticated weapons than the rangers' archaic looking Russian-made AK47 rifles?

Gonarezhou National Park, which is situated in the south eastern part of the country, is part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park which incorporates Gaza National Park of Mozambique and Kruger National Park of South Africa. Covering 5 053 square kilometers, this makes it a mammoth task for the few rangers deployed in the park to eradicate poaching activities, which are on the increase worldwide.

Due to the growth experienced in the ivory export business in the 1970s and 1980s, the total elephant population of Africa decreased by half. Up to one million elephants were killed for their tusks to the point where the endangered animal appeared to be on the verge of extinction. In fact there is evidence of elephant tusk size reduction. A rapid evolution due to the gene pool of the largest tuskers being hunted first.

Despite the resource constraints, the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA), has made commendable strides in protecting the country's elephant herd and managed to reduce poaching activities by 32 percent last year. Authority would never eradicate poaching completely as it is part of wildlife management but it was critical that it is kept within acceptable levels. A representative said "We are dealing with a well resourced powerful syndicate operating in the region but we are, however, on top of the game as we have noted a decrease in poaching nationwide. We are working with security agents in the country, the Attorney General's Office, the police and the courts to address this issue, Poaching is not new in Africa but we have deployed trained men to the park. Our major challenge is that the rangers cannot cover the whole park"

In 1989 the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wildlife Fauna and Flora banned trade in ivory hoping to protect elephants from poachers. Some Western nations have also provided assistance to African countries in order to help crack down on poachers. Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia have in the past decades accumulated huge stockpiles of ivory through culling, which is meant to keep the elephant herd within manageable levels.

Although the country is bound by a moratorium on ivory trade for nine years it is continuously arguing that if allowed to sell its ivory stockpiles the issue of poaching could be managed better. Zimbabwe, which is sitting on a 34 tonne stockpile of ivory worth US$5.1billion, can only reapply for permission to trade in its ivory in 2017.

More reading:
- For more on the Ivory auction debate see our previous post here.
- More on South African National Parks Elephant Management policy here.
- For an amazing experience with Elephant conservation see this post here. You can get involved with Elephant conservation on your trip to southern Africa by actually collaring an elephant. more on that here.

.....Or just search our blog (top left corner) for "elephant"

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This site and its content © Copyright 2009. Photos used with permission. Read more in the ROAR AFRICA Payment and Cancellation Policies.
Site designed and implemented by Engage Brandcraft CC. To report any problems with this site please contact