Zimbabwe Suspends Hunting

HARARE – Zimbabwe has suspended wildlife hunting licences in what sources said was part of efforts to curb poaching that has been on the rise since the start of the year.

The Department of National Parks and Wildlife, in charge of national parks in the country, flighted adverts in the press on Monday warning permit holders currently on hunting sessions to stop hunting with immediate effect.

''National Parks and Wildlife Authority would like to warn the public that all current hunting permits have been suspended with immediate effect to verify them,” the advert said, adding; “All current permit holders are advised to approach the Parks Authority to verify validity of their permits.

''National Parks director general Morris Mutsambiwa could not be reached for comment.

However, a senior official with a local non-governmental organisation (NGO) that campaigns against poaching said suspension of permits was aimed at curbing poaching and abuse of hunting permits that has seen the country losing thousands of dollars in potential earnings from trophy hunting.

''National Parks is reacting to numerous reports of poaching, over-hunting of quotas by hunters as well as abuse of permits,'' said the NGO official who declined to be named for fear of victimisation.

Last month National Parks officials blamed the upsurge in poaching in the country on a cartel of international gangsters they said were funding poachers to kill valuable game such as the rhino that is hunted for its horn.

Zimbabwe is one of four countries in the world that still have significant populations of rhinos. The other three all in Africa are Kenya, Namibia and South Africa.

Wildlife authorities in the country have found it hard to contain poaching in national parks especially after landless villagers began invading – with the government’s tacit approval – white-owned farms in 2000.

There have also been widespread reports of illegal and uncontrolled trophy hunting on former white-owned conservancies now controlled by powerful politicians from President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF party.The government however denies that politicians are illegally hunting game and insists it still has poaching under control. – ZimOnline

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