55% overpopulation of elephants: “other countries rejecting our exports’
The fear of human and wildlife conflict is now high following revelations in Parliament that Zimbabwe has exceeded its carrying capacity for elephants with an overpopulation ratio of 55 percent.
This was revealed by Gokwe-Chireya MP Tonderai Moyo in Parliament on Wednesday last week who asked what the government was doing to depopulate elephants in Zimbabwe noting that they have exceeded the required number.
“Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir and good afternoon to you. I wanted to ask the Minister of Environment and Tourism and in his absence, I will direct the question to the Leader of Government business. Zimbabwe has a total population of over 100 000 elephants and the carrying capacity is 45 000, which means there is over-population. What is Government policy regarding the export of live elephants to other countries?” he asked.
The leader of Parliamentary business Ziyambi Ziyambi responded on behalf of Tourism Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu who was absent. The Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister said some countries have banned Zimbabwe from selling elephants to them.
“Mr. Speaker Sir. I want to thank the Hon. Member for the question. It is very correct that the carrying capacity for our elephants has been exceeded. We really want to downscale and have a reasonable amount of our herd of elephants.
“As a country, we are constrained because of the international conventions that we are party to but we really believe that this is very unfair. We should be allowed as a country to sell off excess stock of our elephants; it is one of the areas that our Minister is seized with and we are pushing as a block, particularly as African countries.
“Those that impose this ban do not have elephants in their countries and we believe that it should not be a blanket statement that applies to everyone else in the world.
“We must look at it region by region and look at it specifically looking at us here in Southern Africa, you find out that almost 50% of the elephants in the world are in Southern Africa outside Kenya – that is Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and Zambia. We believe it is something that we must look at and continue pushing so that we are allowed that free trade,” Ziyambi said.
Zanu PF MP James Munetsi made a supplementary question saying, “would it be of any effect if Zimbabwe as a country would pull countries which are giving us restrictions to sell our elephants?”
Ziyambi responded: “We believe in engaging and negotiating as opposed to pulling out. So, we believe that we must continue with our efforts to negotiate so that our position is heard.”
Makoni Central MP David Tekeshe noted the situation was risking causing human-wildlife conflict.
“We are facing a challenge of human wildlife population. The number of elephants in Zimbabwe are so many. They have exceeded the desired number,” he said. Nehanda Radio