Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Rhino poaching toll rises to 11, says parks department

Eleven black and white rhinoceroses have been killed over the past few months amid reports poaching of the endangered species has intensified in Zimbabwe. The Parks and Wildlife Management Authority recently disclosed that rhino poaching incidents had increased. It said 11 rhinos had been killed in different parts of the country since January. Parks spokesperson Caroline Washaya-Moyo told NewsDay the latest incident occurred in the Gwayi Conservancy area late May where poachers killed and de-horned two rhinos believed to have strayed from Hwange National Park. “It is believed that the rhinos had strayed from Hwange National Park into the Gwayi area where they were shot. The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, police and the Criminal Investigation Department’s minerals unit are continuing with investigations,” said Washaya-Moyo. She said the two rhinos, an 11-year-old mother and a four-month-old calf, were killed on May 22. Cases of rhino and elephant poaching have been on the rise in Zimbabwe following increased demand of the rhino horn in the Asian market where it is allegedly used for treatment of cancer and various ailments. A rhino horn is believed to fetch around $65 000 per kilogramme in China. Washaya Moyo said the compensation value of a rhino remains at $120 000 as a measure to stop rhino poaching while the compensation value for an elephant stands at $50 000 up from $20 000. The compensation figures were according to the 2012 gazetted Statutory Instruments 56 and 57 on illegal hunting of animals and fish as well as payment for trapping of wild animals. “Parks endeavours to conserve and preserve the country’s wildlife heritage and has come up with a number of strategies to ensure protection of flagship species,” Washaya-Moyo said. Recently, Zimbabwean wildlife authorities recovered 50 elephant tusks,28 of them in Binga near the border with Zambia while 22 were recovered in Victoria Falls. Conservationists in Gwayi have blamed the influx of Chinese mining firms in the area for the upsurge in poaching activities. The area is a buffer zone for the Hwange National Park. Chinese mining firms have sprouted in the wildlife area, extracting coal and prospecting for other minerals. “The coincident of these Chinese mines and the poaching of the two rhinos is suspicious. Since blacks were allocated conservancies in Gwayi, we have never lost any single rhino to poachers,” said a wildlife conservationist in the area who refused to be named. However, rhino conservationists argue that more than 20 rhinos have been killed to date and accuse the parks authority of deflating the figure to maintain a picture of sanity in place of crisis. Source: Various

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