Zimparks Director General, Mr Fulton Mangwanya has implored parliament to do all it can to engage the international community in order to block an attempt to abuse the CITES process through interference in the sustainable management of wildlife particularly elephants, whose population is 84 000 in Zimbabwe, the second largest in the world after Botswana.

Zimparks officials appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environment and Tourism this morning.

“CITES has been hijacked by purported animal lovers, who are stopping us from benefitting from our own natural resources. We have ivory and rhino horns worth US$600 million which we are unable to sell because of the CITES ban. If we are allowed to sell, we will be able to solve our problems. When the CITES ban came into effect in 2009, they had said it will be lifted after nine years but they still can’t allow us now. So we need your support such that as SADC we speak with one voice. We are glad that Botswana has now opened up to hunting,” said Mr Mangwanya.

Poaching is a serious problem in the country, while human and wildlife conflict remains a major challenge in communities such as Hwange and Tsholotsho, leading to destruction of lives, livestock, crops and homes.

“Poachers are ruthless, if they track a rhino and find it even without a horn, they just kill it. We now have a shoot to kill policy on all poachers as we try to protect our heritage with the minimum available resources. Human and wildlife is another challenge especially in communities around Victoria Falls National Park, Save Valley Conservancy and Hwange National Park,” said Mr Mangwanya.

The Zimparks chief confirmed that the Campfire project will be re-launched to ensure communities benefit from their wildlife.

For an organisation with a legacy debt of $25 million right now, the authority is self-funded from hunting and fishing fees, accommodation and ancillary services.