By Nyasha Mutena
Protected areas are a hallmark of Zimbabwe conservation efforts and improving their status will assist the country to attain the Vision to be a Middle Income Economy by the year 2030, Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry’s Minister, Hon Mangaliso Ndlovu has said.
He made these remarks during a stakeholder consultative meeting to gather views on the review of the Parks and Wildlife Act [Chapter 20:14] held yesterday 5 May 2021.
His clarion call is in sync with the assertion that wildlife conservation and Tourism stability are necessary factors to support the growth of the performance pillars of the economy that will enable a country to achieve its objectives.
Hon Ndlovu emphasized that there is an urgent need to ensure that the reviewed Act is updated according to the Constitution of 2013 seeing that it was enacted in 2007.
He added that our actions and decisions should also show that we resonate well with several international conventions Zimbabwe is signatory to.
“The Constitution came into being in 2013 whilst the Parks and Wildlife Act was last amended in 2007. There is therefore need to ensure that this piece of legislation complies with our Constitution, especially as regards the rights of the citizens of our country and our administration of the Authority as a public body etc. And the rights of the people viz a viz wildlife protection.
“Our country is a signatory to several Conventions that regulate our wildlife management like, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) Convention on Biological Diversity ( CBD) and Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) to mention but a few. There is need to ensure that we domesticate provisions of these conventions and that we are, where possible, guided by them as we enact our laws,” he said.
Hon Ndlovu further said that it is imperative to come up with laws that help to eradicate poaching and other wildlife crimes by identifying them clearly and outing up deterrent sentences for those convicted.
His call comes at a time when poaching and smuggling are considered as some of the key threats facing biodiversity and sustainable utilization. Smuggling involves transnational organized crime and has strong linkages with the trafficking of other non-wildlife products. It is estimated that resources worth between USD$48 to USD$153 billion are lost through illegally traded wildlife products including timber and fisheries globally each year.
In the same breath, Minister Ndlovu said there is need to empower the law enforcement hierarchy, from rangers to the judges, to ensure that they have the capacity to deal decisively with wildlife criminals.