Sikhulekelani Moyo, Business Reporter
GOVERNMENT has begun consultations to review the country’s wildlife policy, which has been overtaken by events, having been adopted some 30 years ago.
Experts say the old policy is no longer effective in dealing with contemporary wildlife management challenges.
On Wednesday the Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu, met with wildlife stakeholders in Bulawayo to deliberate on the matter.
In his remarks the minister said the old wildlife policy has been operational since 1992, guiding the use, management and conservation of biodiversity in the country. However, Zimbabwe has in the past three decades witnessed several legal and policy developments that necessitate an urgent review of the old policy.
These include the enactment of the Environment Management Act, National Environmental Policy and Strategies of 2005, the National Climate Change Policy of 2017 and the just concluded Communal Areas Management Program for Indigenous Resources Reviews.
Moreover, Ndlovu said the adoption of a new constitution in 2013 also makes it imperative to align wildlife policy with the supreme law.
“The new reforms have necessitated the need to review the wildlife policy of 1992 and align it to the new constitution and incorporate new and emerging issues as experienced nationally, regionally and also influenced by conservation dynamics at international level,” said Minister Ndlovu.
“Locally, the issues which necessitate the review of wildlife policy include the land tenure in management of wildlife in the country, which have changed in the past two decades pursuant to the land reform programme, increasing cases of human wildlife conflict due to human encroachment into wildlife habitats, growing wildlife population against depleting habitat, climate change, increase in illegal wildlife trade and trafficking and expansion of agricultural activities and human settlement into protected areas.”
The policy review will incorporate all the mentioned issues, making it possible in managing human and wildlife conflict and good management of wildlife for sustainable development.
“All the changes should be considered because managing human and wildlife conflict and mitigating these issues is, therefore, pivotal in sustaining the wildlife sector and these must be incorporated in the existing policy by way of reviewing and updating it,” said the minister.
He told the gathering that the wildlife resource was one of the key pillars in the tourism sector given its huge contribution to community earnings in many countries.
“Wildlife is responsible of creating jobs and it contributes significantly to the economic growth in many developing countries including Zimbabwe,” he said.
“It brings ecological and cultural benefits into regions around the world hence it’s important to safeguard our wildlife.”
The minister said the challenges associated with wildlife management can be mitigated by the putting in place robust legislation and sound policies to protect both human life and wildlife.
He called upon all stakeholders to participate in the reviewing of the policy as this could help in solving issues like community participation and benefit sharing on wildlife management.
Such interventions are critical in bringing about meaningful transformation in the wildlife sector and contributing effectively to Vision 2030 and targets set in National Development strategy 1. [email protected]