Poaching Rises in Zimbabwe's Game Parks, Report Says
HARARE -- Poaching is rising in Zimbabwe's game reserves and at least 40 endangered black rhinos have been killed in the last three years, the World Wildlife Fund conservation group said on Saturday.
Zimbabwe has an estimated 800 black rhinos, after losing over 1,500 to heavy poaching in the 1980s before a government crackdown slowed the slaughter.
WWF public relations officer Melody Maunze told Zimbabwe's state Herald newspaper the black rhino -- an endangered species whose horn is valued in Asia as an aphrodisiac -- was under threat again.
A severe economic crisis, which critics blame on President Robert Mugabe's policies, have left many government departments struggling to offer decent services, and Maunze said Zimbabwe's anti-poaching drive and penalties against poachers were not tough enough.
"We are aware that there has been an ongoing collaboration by various stakeholders, but we are concerned about the increasing levels of poaching in (private) conservancies in particular, and some state parks," she said.
Maunze and Zimbabwean officials were not available for comment on Saturday.
But the Herald quoted Morris Mtsambiwa, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority director general, as saying he was "equally concerned about the proper management of the black rhino" and that the animals were safe.
Zimbabwe was working on relocating black rhinos to the southeastern Gonarezhou National Park, which is part of the southern African Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, he said.
"We are still working on the logistics, but at the moment the rhinos are safe with the successful creation of intensive zones," Mtsambiwa said.
Zimbabwe is home to some of Africa's largest game reserves but experts say some animal species are at risk from rampant poaching by people struggling with hunger and rising poverty as well as from cross-border trophy hunters.