Leonard Ncube , Victoria Falls Reporter
THE Government will donate an undisclosed number of wild animals to Angola to help the country rebuild its wildlife which was ravaged by decades of war, President Mnangagwa has said.
Addressing local and international journalists on the sidelines of the inaugural Africa Union-United Nations Wildlife Economy Summit which ended in Victoria Falls yesterday, President Mnangagwa called for integration and co-operation among African states.
He said the whole Sadc region was in agreement that a ban in trade in wildlife products must be lifted.
The Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) imposed a moratorium on wildlife products a decade ago and Sadc countries are pushing for a lifting of the ban.
Emerging from the conference yesterday, President Mnangagwa said the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) and Greater Mapungubwe Trans-frontier Conservation Area (GMFTCA) both concur that Cites should lift the ban.
Kaza-TFCA covers five countries Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe while the GMFTCA covers Mozambique and South
“We were greatly honoured as Zimbabwe and Kaza in particular to host this conference. The crowning of the summit is that we as Sadc and Kaza have put forward our position and we’re aware of South Africa and Mozambique’s position and that becomes our Sadc position which we are going to ratify at the COP18 in Geneva, Switzerland.
“We feel we should remain in Appendix 2 which means we should be allowed to trade in wildlife products. Zimbabwe has in excess of 30 000 elephants while some of our brother countries north of us have exhausted their wildlife. We are willing to sell and donate those wild animals to them so they can also grow the population of animals and we believe Cites should allow us.
“Because of war, Angola has a lot of landmines and most of the animals have moved south. So we are now co-operating with Angola to raise funds to demine their area and we will give them elephants, buffaloes and lions which we believe is a humane approach,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said he is convinced the country is doing the right thing, following in the footsteps of the continent’s founding fathers whose theory was integrating Africa so all member states can support each other.
President Mnangagwa reiterated that trade in wildlife products should be liberalised.
He said while the country vehemently advocates for lifting of the ban so it can also sell its USD$600 million worth of ivory and rhino horn stockpiles, it will be guided by the outcome of the engagements.
The President urged Cites to be objective on the issue.
“We won’t burn or destroy our stocks. It’s not a crime to keep our ivory in a warehouse and we will only dispose when we have agreed as we wish to continue to be part of Cites.
“This is a democratic process and all AU countries need to co-operate and fight for total trade integration,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said it’s logical that wildlife products be utilised to improve lives of communities around game parks to mitigate conflict.
There are concerns about high human-wildlife conflict in areas adjacent to game parks hence the conference which sought to find ways of involving the communities in wildlife management.
President Mnangagwa said people end up invading game parks for illegal hunting, farming and settlement because they are not benefiting from wildlife.
He appealed for funding from the developed world towards capacitating game parks and surrounding communities.
However, President Mnangagwa said the fact that the country is fighting to dispose of its ivory stocks should not be misconstrued to mean that it is failing to maintain wildlife sanctuaries.
He said all along the country has been managing to capacitate national parks without the money, whose unlocking would help enhance capacity to have more rangers, water points, technology, healthcare for wildlife and drones to protect animals from poachers.
Some countries like Kenya have applied to Cites to be placed in Appendix 1 which ensures enhanced protection of wildlife.