ZELA urges govt, CSOs, private entities to increase investment to combat wildlife crimes

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By Staff Reporter

THE Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) has urged increased investment from government, civil societies and other private actors to combat wildlife crimes.

This comes after six elephants were found dead last week in the Gwayi-Shangani Wildlife Conservancy area in a suspected case of cyanide poisoning.

The elephants which were found in a decomposing state had their tusks removed suggesting that the killings were driven by poaching motives.

In a statement Monday, the environmental lobby group called upon stakeholders to capacitate communities with the skills required to lessen wildlife crimes, and utilise digital technology for monitoring animals’ movements.

“Consequently, ZELA continues to call upon further investment by government, private actors, and civil society in implementing various initiatives to equip communities with the necessary skills to mitigate and prevent wildlife crime while promoting conservation of the wildlife resources.

“We call upon these actors to innovate around the use of digital technology for establishing mechanisms for community wildlife crime monitoring, reporting and follow-up.

“We earnestly urge the government and other developmental partners in the sector to increase investments in cutting-edge technology. Such advancements will significantly enhance the monitoring of animal movements and the early detection of wildlife crimes,” ZELA said.

The environmental lobby group added that the substantial elephant population has now become a prime target for wildlife criminal targets.

“The celebrated abundance of elephants in Zimbabwe has paradoxically transformed into a curse. The significant elephant population has become an attractive target for wildlife criminal syndicates, making our country a hotspot for elephant poaching.

“A flourishing elephant population holds environmental/ecological, economic and social benefits for Zimbabwe,” the statement further reads.

In 2013, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe’s largest game park, witnessed the tragic poisoning of over 80 elephants.

According to ZimParks, between 2016 and 2019, a minimum of 322 elephants were poached, primarily targeted for their tusks.