The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) has issued permits for the translocation of 600 elephants from Save Valley Conservancy to three national parks at a cost of US$3 million. The translocation will decongest the conservancy whose wildlife population has exceeded its sustainability levels.
Parks also issued permits for the translocation of 2 000 impalas, 50 buffaloes, 40 giraffes, a pack of wild dogs and two pride of lions.
Bomas, the holding places before the actual release, have been constructed and systems have already been put in place at the receiving parks to ensure adaptability.
ZimParks spokesman Mr Tinashe Farawo told The Herald yesterday that the elephant herds would be carefully selected by translocation experts and ecologists.
“The elephants and other animals are set to be translocated to Chizarira National Park (in Gokwe), Sapi National Park (a private game park in Mashonaland West near Mana Pools) and Mavuradonha Wilderness Safari Area (a private game park in Mashonaland Central),” he said.
“The animals have exceeded their ecological carrying capacity in Save Valley Conservancy and the authority is working with private players in the industry to translocate the animals.
“It is important to note that the growing number of animals in most parts of the country is a result of good management practices by the authority under Mr (Fulton) Mangwanya and his good work ethic, which has resulted in many stakeholders wanting to work with the wildlife management authority.”
Mr Farawo said although the growing animal population in Zimbabwe was not by accident, the development was creating ecological challenges and increased human-wildlife conflict, destruction of the animals’ own habitat, leading to death due to starvation.
This comes at a time when elephants are dying in Hwange National Park, due to drought, while some well-wishers like the Sino Zimbabwe Wildlife Foundation have resorted to supplementary feeding, and yet Zimbabwe and many other countries in the region are hamstrung by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) statutes from selling their ivory, whose proceeds they could use in conservation.
On another note, 33 people have been killed in human-wildlife conflicts this year, while over 115 elephants starved to death mainly in Hwange National Park due to climate change-induced drought.
Hwange should handle 14 700 elephants, but it has about 53 000, in what has turned out to be a serious ecological disaster.
“More so, the increased populations of animals especially elephants have a significant impact on the habitat and if the populations go unchecked, the animals will threaten the very ecosystem they depend on for survival.
“Research has shown that best practices for conservation include reducing the numbers through translocations and culling, although the latter has not been practised for more than 30 years,” he said.
Last year, ZimParks and its partners issued 100 permits for the translocation of 100 elephants from Save Valley Conservancy to Rifa in Hurungwe.
The movement of those elephants came at a cost of about US$500 000. – The Herald