Elephant Poisoning: Arrest, Prosecute Offenders
By Yvonne Mashie
For weeks now, we have been bombarded by news that elephants are dying at the giant Hwange National Parks due to poisoning, adding that to date, at least 100 carcasses have been found, while a number of predators, including vultures and lions have also succumbed to the poisonous chemicals used at water points and salty grass areas in a bid to get ivory from the elephants’ tusks.
I guess it is a lot easy for many Zimbabweans to ignore the news because frankly, people have too much to worry about than elephants dying somewhere in a jungle they have never been able to visit in their life time.
However, it is imperative that the nation knows we have a collective obligation to conserve our environment, more so our animals.
The recent attack on our animals in the great Hwange National Parks shows that organized crime has slipped into the ivory underworld, because only a well-oiled criminal machine could move hundreds of pounds of tusks thousands of miles across the globe.
Clearly, only those with links to the top echelons of the mostly “powerful” elite are able to “smuggle” elephant tusks out of this country. An ordinary struggling Zimbabwean could never do this. Those responsible for carrying out investigations on this matter should do so expeditiously and unsparingly to bring the culprits to book.
According to deputy police commissioner general Innocent Matibiri the smuggling rings stretch to China and Dubai. Some time in July “a wooden artefact was flown to Dubai [from Harare] as an unaccompanied parcel. It was discovered that there were pieces of ivory that weighed 447kg stashed under the wooden sculpture … It is quite obvious that this is a syndicate that involves people in Dubai,” Matibiri said.
However, the Minister responsible for Environment, Water and Climate Change, Saviour Kasukuwere does not think so. He is cautious about launching any investigations into the possible involvement of senior figures in the government.
“We cannot as a government respond to rumour mongering; we are much more serious than that. We will not cast aspersions on any individuals, whoever they are,” he said. Kasukuwere has previously said, however, that the poaching ring is “a well-organised syndicate that includes locals, middlemen and financiers based outside the country”.
As a nation, concerned about the levels of unemployment in this country as well as the gap between the rich and the poor, it is highly important that every one involved, from the small villager who showed the direction, the poachers who conducted the actual act and the anonymous brains that directed such an action all need to be made accountable for their action.
Surely, our nation has struggled to maintain a good name over the last two decades due to bad, unaccountable, dishonest and greedy leaders who are more concerned about amassing as much wealth as they can at the expense of the nation.
Should one give a careful glance at our nation’s way of doing business, it becomes clear that there are individuals hell-bent on making life for Zimbabwe’s future generation unimaginable. People who just don’t care. As long as they can afford to make trips around the globe, so what if we have poor people who can barely afford a meal a day? Who cares about those families who are unable to pay school fees for their children?
It is unfortunate that people have become too greedy and selfish to think of others. Unfortunately, this nation has been robbed of a father and a mother. This nation has been robbed of conscience. This nation has been robbed of foresightedness.
As efforts are being put in place to save the elephants, the government of the day, should equally put effort in transforming the ordinary person’s life. Once one’s immediate needs are met, indeed, our communities will become intertwined and locked enough to want to preserve the natural resources found in their areas.
If the people of Tsholotsho, Hwange and other subsidiary areas understand, feel and reap the benefits of tourism, they will naturally work as the security of the animals and reserves around them.
The same with people of Marange and Manicaland as a whole, should they benefit from the diamond and other minerals found in their vicinity, they will be able to preserve, protect and develop their areas, not just for themselves, but also for future generations.
In fact, should the wealth of Zimbabwe begin to work and benefit the people of Zimbabwe first and foremost, then there will be no room for such heinous act on animals, let alone the hate speech, intimidation and violence on the people as has been characteristic of this nation in the last few years.
There is too much wealth in Zimbabwe to go round every household. We can afford to send every child to school free of charge, even up to university level. This country has vast natural resources, a gift from God to the nation, in order to take care of every citizen of this country.
As the responsible ministry looks into the issue of the elephant poaching, I urge government and Cabinet to holistically look at issues at stake. According to the Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, every person has immediate needs and indeed, future needs.
We need to create a nation, able to leave a good inheritance to its children. No more inheritance of ngozi or goblins. No more creating wealth that dies with its owner, but a creation of a legacy of a nation that loves its children as much as it loves itself.
People need to find occupation that will make them expend their energy positively towards national development. Zimbabwe has enough land to produce enough food to feed the nation and beyond. The nation has enough animals to attract the world for a visit.
Zimbabwe has good, hospitable people who can extend the same courtesy not only to their neighbour but also to the whole world. This nation has good morals, with which the world can learn a lot. Zimbabwe is indeed a Jewel of Africa in every sense, therefore, we can not afford to hide that jewel behind a few greedy people who want to see this nation failing.
Zimbabwe is a success story. There may have been violence, intimidation, recession, but the people who lack the greater vision of the country have caused all this. Myopic individuals whose vision extends not beyond their families, caused the pain for the nation, but this is the time to move out of this autopilot zone. We need leadership!
Zimbabwe needs a parent who will rise up and claim the future of its children.
Save the elephants, save the environment, save the nation, save the future.