By Langton Nyakwenda – The Herald
President Emmerson Mnangagwa is expected in Botswana today to attend the crucial Elephant Summit taking place in the tourism town of Kasane. The Summit commenced on May 3 and will conclude tomorrow after the Heads of States meeting.
The ground-breaking summit seeks to establish a common ground on the management of the region’s elephant population.
Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira will meet her counterparts from the region today to lay the groundwork ahead of the Head of States meeting set for tomorrow.
Zimbabwe, whose elephant population is second to Botswana in the world, has joined forces with regional nations in pushing for countries with high jumbo populations to be allowed to exercise various management methods which include trophy hunting, culling and sale of ivory to raise revenue which can be channelled towards wildlife management.
The Convention of International Trade on Endangered Species (CITES) in Flora and Fauna which convenes later this year has banned international trade in ivory — a position that Zimbabwe and her regional counterparts strongly contest.
In an interview with The Herald, held on the sidelines of the summit yesterday, Zimparks director-general Mr Fulton Mangwanya confirmed that a common ground on elephant population management had been established.
“The technical committee meetings have concluded and deliberations have been made on what we are going to present to the ministers who will meet tomorrow (today).
“The common position is that we believe in sustainable management of natural resources,” said Mr Mangwanya.
“We are fighting tooth and nail with our enemies so that we are allowed to trade in our wildlife resources. The main contention is the elephants which we (Zimbabwe) are not allowed to benefit from. These are the issues that we want to defend as a region if we are to go to the CITES meeting later this year.”
The Kasane Elephant Summit will be graced by Heads of States from countries that make up the Kavango-Zambezi (KAZA) region.
Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe make up the KAZA region which is home to over 250 000 elephants — 75 per cent of the world’s jumbo population.
Zimbabwe has been grappling with human wildlife conflict issues with hundreds of deaths caused by elephants recorded in recent years.
Vast hactares of crops have also been destroyed by these animals leaving communities who share boundaries with elephants facing hunger.