Connect with us

Support The NewsHawks


African civil society groups demand trophy hunting ban



AFRICAN civil society organisations, including the Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG), have taken the fight against trophy hunting and poaching to the British Parliament, amid revelations that Zimbabwe could be losing over 1 000 elephants per year due to wanton killings.


This week, CNRG director Farai Maguwu was among 103 wildlife conservation experts throughout Africa — including Botswana, Tanzania, South Africa, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe — who sent an open letter to memebrs of the United Kingdom’s House of Lords, urging them to support a bill to ban the importation of hunting trophies to the UK ahead of a parliamentary debate on the issue.

“By removing reproductive-aged animals from the population, trophy hunting can de[1]crease genetic variation, alter population structures, decrease population density, and cause unnatural evolutionary impacts. Changes in social structures can exacerbate human-wild[1]life conflict (which can potentially put human lives at risk),” read part of the letter.

The development comes amid speculation that Zimbabwe may pull out of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), which could increase the wanton slaughter of endangered species like elephants and rhinos mostly by criminal syndicates with government connections. Wanton killing have been popular among well-connected people.

For instance, prominent people in Zimbabwe have been implicated in poaching, as well as diamond and ivory smuggling through the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport. Cleopas Chidodo, CAAZ security manager at the airport, revealed that former first lady Grace Mugabe made a lot of money through smuggling, with the assistance of personnel from the Office of the President.

Chidodo was speaking to undercover reporters in the fourth episode of Al Jazeera’s investigative documentary titled Gold Mafia. He maintained that the smuggling was occurring behind the then president Robert Mugabe’s back.

But Chidodo would later retract his revelations, while apologising Mugabe’s widow and absolving her of any criminal activities. In an interview with The NewsHawks this week, Maguwu said trophy hunting is bad news to the country as it will endanger elephants, while worsening human and wildlife conflict.

“It is very serious in that every year we put up about 500 elephants for slaughter by tro[1]phy hunters. The hunters usually target the biggest of elephants in the herd and then take whatever they want as a trophy back to their country.

“It is a practice that is very much supported by many governments in Africa, and they say that it is meant to sponsor conservation. Governments give licences for people to come and do that.

“So, this is a very endemic problem in that every year, at least 500 elephants are put up for trophy hunting. Add to that, we have got poachers which means that we may be losing at least 1 000 elephants per year. Very soon, elephants will be endangered species, he said.

 Maguwu said local communities are also bearing the brunt of hunting and poaching activity. Zimbabwe has an estimated 82 000 elephants, which is more than twice the national target population envisaged in the 1980s. The population has grown exponentially since the 1990s, but illegal killings have continued.

The increase in the elephant population has put a strain on resources, and has led to increased conflict between elephants and humans. In 2022, 60 people were killed by elephants in Zimbabwe, compared to 72 in all of 2021.

“When you kill an elephant, the surviving members of the herd will be suspicious, and even angry with humans and it is the communities that will bear the brunt while trophy hunters will be enjoying in the comfort of their homes,” Maguwu said.

Maguwu also said trophy hunting has been undermining tourism, as frightful elephants are being driven out of reach of rangers during game drives.

“Trophy hunting is also undermining tour[1]ism in that it is driving elephants deep into the forest. If you kill one elephant, then you will drive them away, because no one wants to die, even animals do not want to die.

“So, when there is gunfire, they will know that there is danger and they will move deep into the forest where they feel they are safe. This is now giving a burden to tour guides when they want to do game drives, they are now struggling to find elephants.

 “Some are even saying that Chobe (in northern Botswana) is now a better area for game drives than Hwange and Victoria Falls. And the other thing is that there has also been human-wildlife conflict,” he said.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *