Zimbabwe says elephant trophy hunting is meant to reduce human-wildlife conflicts.

– The animals themselves will assist in the generation of funds to assist these communities, Zimbabwean minister said.

John Cassim

Harare, Zimbabwe – The Zimbabwean government has announced plans to introduce a new hunting quota meant to contain the elephant population as the country battles with increased reports, of human-wildlife conflict.

The state-run ZBC news online quoted the country’s Minister of Environment, Climate, and Wildlife, Mangaliso Ndlovu, saying the jumbo herd has more than doubled, leading to an upsurge in human-wildlife conflict.

“As the elephant herds in the country grow, so does the conflict with humans; hence, we are working on a hunting quota, which should be announced in the first quarter of the year. This quota will ensure that it not only supports rural development but will also decongest the elephant herds, which have grown to large numbers, as well as support conservation financing,” he said.

The Minister added that the move will also see the introduction of a new model of the Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) programme, an initiative meant to benefit communities affected by human-wildlife conflict.

“We, as a government, are working on having a pocket to assist communities that have been affected by interactions with wildlife. The animals themselves will assist in the generation of funds to assist these communities.

We look forward to the resuscitation of the CAMPFIRE project, where we will see funds going towards building clinics and providing drugs to assist victims before they reach bigger hospitals,” he added.

In 1900, it was feared that elephants might become extinct south of the Zambezi River, with an estimated population of just 4000.

In 2014, after a national census, this number had increased to nearly 83,000 elephants, despite attempts to limit elephant population growth between 1960 and 1995 by culling 49,000 elephants in tsetse control areas and state protected areas.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) Director General, Dr. Fulton Mangwanya, has revealed the elephant population in the country is creating numerous challenges.

“We are currently allowed to hunt 500 elephants every year, but the truth is that we are not interested in the 500; we want to offtake even more because the numbers are too much for us.

They are destroying their habitat, even the habitat for other animals; they are killing human beings; they are destroying infrastructure; so we have a  problem.” Dr. Mangwanya said this during an exclusive interview with ConserveZim.

Dr. Mangwanya added that the numbers of elephants are not sustainable: “the elephants are killing people, the crocodiles are killing people, the buffalos are doing the same, the hippos are doing the same, but you look at all the wildlife species they are CITES controlling, and our hands are tied.”

The Zimbabwean government is arguing that due to good wildlife management, the animals have increased in population, and most of them have been placed under Appendices 1 and 11, hence the country cannot move.

“Zimbabwe is suffering from a political argument instead of looking at the dangers our elephants are posing to our humans. Even if we take these elephants to the UK or to West Africa, they will never agree because they know taking care of elephants is a problem,” Dr. Mangwanya bemoaned.

Hunting

Each year, between 2010 and 2018, ZimParks allocated hunting quotas to each of the CAMPFIRE Districts through a participatory and science-based process.

Ten participating districts were allocated a quota of 1,437 elephants (approximately 160 per year) and a further 4,939 other animals (half of which were buffalo).

Each CAMPFIRE District was allowed to negotiate concession agreements with safari operators, who in turn would market the allocated quota to foreign hunters.

Over a period of 9 years, just over 50% of the elephant quota was used, and just under 50% of the quota for other animals was used as well.

Benefits

Trophy hunting has been reported to have resulted in increasing the food and livelihood security of rural people, as well as playing a role in mitigating human-wildlife conflict.

  • Between 2010 and 2018, the hunting sector in CAMPFIRE districts earned approximately US$17 million.
  • Of this amount, trophy fees contributed approximately US$12 million, of which elephant trophy fees contributed approximately US$7.6 million (63%).
  • Under the benefit sharing guidelines, the Rural District Councils received approximately 56% (range 23%–66%) or US$1.05 million per year, and the Wards received 46% (range 26%–77%) or US$830,000 per year.

Controversy

On the one hand, Zimbabwe has been affected by temporary import bans, as hunters have only just started being able to import trophies to the US following a temporary suspension in 2014.

This highlighted the reliance of the CAMPFIRE programme on revenue from hunting and a need to diversify. The Government of Zimbabwe has completed a comprehensive review of the CAMPFIRE programme and is in the process of developing a CAMPFIRE policy.

The government is on a drive to expand the CAMPFIRE programme, an initiative meant to benefit communities affected by human-wildlife conflict. The cabinet has already approved this move.

Meanwhile, a Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill is still being discussed in the House of Lords in the United Kingdom. This, if it passes, is likely going to negatively impact trophy hunting in the region.

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