October 30, 2020

Keeping You posted

With Trusted Zimbabwe News as well as Local and Regional Perspectives.

By Shingirai Vambe.

Victoria falls – Barely 12 months after the Africa  Wildlife Economy Summit, Zimbabwean government has afforded a Chinese firm a mining title in the Hwange National Park (HNP) and canceled yesterday after an out cry.

Hwange National Parks known of having the African heritage of the Big Five, the town has large deposits of coal which was discovered in 1895 by the American Scouts and since, the mineral has been used on various activities which includes generation of electricity and production of tar.

However the mineral has recently been removed as a major producer of energy after it was cited as a major driver of climate change as it  consists of more than 50 percent by weight and more than 70 percent by volume of carbonaceous material.

During a post cabinet briefing yesterday, government said, “Mining on areas held by National Parks is banned with immediate effect. Steps are being undertaken to immediately cancel all mining title held in National Parks”.

The Africa Wildlife Economy Summit which ran under the theme,  “Communities for Conservation, Harnessing Conservation Tourism, and Supporting Governments” in June 2019 and more than 30 African including other International countries participated on the summit in trying to find ways in promoting the Tourism Industry.

The summit of the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) in Victoria Falls resolved that countries should adopt a scientific wildlife management system in national parks to be able to harvest or move wildlife without hindrance by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites)

In that aspect, the continuous of human-wildlife conflict and diseases moving to domesticated animals is on the rise due to mismanagement of these conservation areas exacerbated by other factors like deforestation, veld-fires and climate change as wild animals also move in search of water.

Three of the country’s major national parks lie across international boundaries and are part of the Trans-frontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs). They are Hwange National Park in the Kavango Zambezi (KAZA) TFCA; Mana Pools National Park in the Mid Zambezi TFCA; and Gonarezhou National Park in the Greater Limpopo TFCA. KAZA is arguably the largest TFCA in the world involving Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe; and embracing 36 protected areas that include national parks, game reserves, community conservancies and game management areas.

Companies that have been awarded mining grants in the HNP belong to a multi-millionaire Bill Rautenberch, Chinese company known as Efrochine Energy and Zhongxin Coal Mining Group among other companies.

Developed countries have started to ban the use of coal with over 30 countries so far including Germany soon after the conference of parties in Brazil.

Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) Givemore Chidzidzi thanked the government for banning mining in the national parks, citing the impact on the tourism industry.

This publication was reliably informed that HNP lost more than 10 bulls of elephants and it was in the HNP that elephants were dying due to an unknown cause, tests were made and results are yet to be collected from the laboratory.

The world Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) said The sustainable management of the country’s rich natural heritage and the role played by nature in national economic development and local community livelihoods resonates with outcomes of the first Africa Wildlife Summit held in Victoria Falls on 23-25 June 2019. The Summit highlighted the importance of wildlife as a driver  of African economies when sustainably managed and natured.

Enos Shumba from WWF told Post On Sunday that ” If allowed, mining activities have the following adverse effects on national parks, adjacent communities, and conservation efforts within the country an Increased wildlife habitat fragmentation and degradation that further restricts free wildlife movement within the park itself and other parks in the country and beyond. Habitat fragmentation also worsens human wildlife conflict  in national parks’ buffer zones”

He further highlighted the Increase in wildlife poaching & illegal trade of wildlife products caused by an influx of mining communities into the park, who might not have a wildlife stewardship culture and no interest in the preservation of nature and drastic increase in noise and air pollution caused by blasting, excavations and other operations in concession areas. This can adversely affect wildlife and tourism operations and related value chains as well as the health of resident and neighbouring communities.
 With these factor alone Tourism and Wildlife experts said unintended but speedy undoing of community stewardship via the Communal Areas Management Program for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) and the risks it poses in terms of driving poaching; and, and a dent in Zimbabwe’s international reputation in the conservation sector with the public, some tourists and international development partners.
During the Covid-19 lockdown period, Director General, Fulton Mangwanya told parliment that forty (40) lives were lost due to human wildlife conflict, and with scarce resources available for National Parks, poaching activities were on the rise.
To this current and previous developments at Hwange and other regions National Parks Spokesperson Tinashe Farawo told Post On Sunday that, they were happy with the government move and listening to other stakeholders in the tourism industry.
“We have a listening government, after the public out-cry government intervened” Farawo said.
he added that, the mining grants are given by the ministry of mines and mining development, he also highlighted the need for people living within these areas to benefit from the resource in their areas.
“It is common cause that people living in areas like Hwange, Tsholotsho should benefit from the proceeds of wildlife otherwise they will resort to other activities which include illegal mining which has life-time effects to our Tourism and wildlife industry as well as environmental degradation”
Efforts to get comments from both ministers of mines and mining development, Winston Chitando and Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Mangaliso Nqobizitha Ndlovu were fruitless as they could not respond to questions send to them on their mobile phone.