FW: Mugabe orders cull of elephants to feed starving villagers
- -----Original Message-----
From: jim robertson
Date: Sun, 01 May 2005 07:31:08 +0000
> *Mugabe orders cull of elephants to feed starving villagers*-------------------------------------------------------
> By Basildon Peta in Johannesburg
> 28 April 2005
> Fresh from his disputed victory in Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections,
> President Robert Mugabe has turned his sights on the country's wildlife
> reserves in a bid to feed thousands of malnourished villagers.
> Zimbabwe's national parks have been ordered to work with rural district
> councils to begin the wholesale slaughter of big game. National park
> rangers said they had already shot 10 elephants in the past week. The
> meat was barbecued at festivities to mark 25 years of independence.
> Four of the animals were reportedly shot in view of tourists near Lake
> Kariba, the largest man-made lake in Africa and a major wildlife haven.
> Five years after ordering white-owned farms to be confiscated, the
> Mugabe regime has turned a country once known as the breadbasket of
> Africa into a famished land. An estimated 4 million rural poor suffer
> from food shortages.
> The wildlife directive is a major blow to efforts by conservationists
> to rehabilitate a wildlife sector devastated by Mr Mugabe's
> confiscation policy. The chaotic farm invasions saw party militants
> storming into conservation areas - private and state-owned - to
> slaughter animals. Unscrupulous South African hunters also joined in
> the looting, paying hefty kickbacks to politicians to go into
> conservation areas and shoot lions, leopards and cheetahs for trophies.
> There had been high hopes among conservationists that Zimbabwe's
> wildlife sector could be restored to its former glory. Certain species
> of wildlife in southern Zimbabwe are still abundant, and a
> trans-frontier park, allowing animals from Mozambique and the Kruger
> Park in South Africa to move freely in and out of Zimbabwe's Gonarezhou
> National Park (home of the slaughtered elephants), had been set up.
> Those conservationists have criticised the new measures and have been
> scathing about the killings of the elephants for the independence
> celebrations. A giraffe was also killed to feed peasants in the Binga
> area during the festivities, but the meat disappeared. It is believed
> that police and army officials appropriated the meat for themselves and
> it never reached the intended beneficiaries.
> Farmers have relied on their own livestock in the past three years of
> famine, induced by the land seizures. Their plight has worsened since
> the government stopped international donors from distributing food aid
> in a move by Mr Mugabe to take charge of the process himself and punish
> those who did not support him.
> Parks officials say many of the peasants living close to the reserves
> have already been venturing inside to hunt and kill animals with
> snares. But they said the impact of snare hunting by the villagers was
> limited compared to what would happen if armed national park rangers
> were allowed to enter conservation areas to secure meat to feed
> millions of hungry farmers.
> "Killing of animals for any reasons other than conservation can be very
> disastrous," said a parks official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
> "The politicians think we have enough animals to feed people without
> wiping out different species. We as professionals don't think so. We
> are talking to them [the politicians] and we hope we will reach
> consensus on protecting our wildlife heritage."
> Other government officials said that Mr Mugabe was so happy about his
> rural constituency - which ensured he achieved a majority of seats in
> last month's parliamentary elections - that he wanted to do everything
> to please the voters. His party lost nearly all seats in urban areas,
> traditional strongholds of the opposition, and won in rural areas where
> it had created more constituencies. Mr Mugabe has also created a new
> ministry to look after the rural electorate.
> Food ran out in Zimbabwe soon after the election and the country has
> experienced acute power and fuel shortages over the past two weeks.
> Basic commodities have disappeared from shops. Mr Mugabe has said he
> will jail manufacturers whom he accuses of creating shortages to
> encourage people to revolt.
I have created two animal rights groups: