Zim govt 'doesn't care about wildlife'
17 April 2014, 15:21
Cape Town – The future of Zimbabwe's Presidential Elephant Herd remains uncertain after elephant protector Sharon Pincott hinted that she was stepping aside following a fallout over an "illegal" land claim in the Hwange National Park, a report says.
According to SW Radio Africa, The Zimbabwe Presidential Elephant Conservation Project was founded and has been run by Pincott since 2001, with the aim of monitoring and protecting the Presidential Elephant Herd, a unique herd of wild elephants that are meant to be protected by presidential decree.
But 13 years since the project was launched, the elephants now face being left without a caretaker after Pincott announced early this week that she was stopping her work.
Pincott's announcement followed a worsening fight caused by the takeover of a piece of land in the Hwange National Park, which serves as the herd's home range, the report said.
The land in the Kanondo area has been claimed by a woman who insists she has an inheritance claim to the land, despite a 2013 directive by Zimbabwe's Cabinet that offer letters for the land be withdrawn.
Repeated failures of government
The Kanondo area is now being referred to as the Gwango Elephant Lodge, the report said.
In a public letter announcing her withdrawal, Pincott listed the repeated failures of government officials to stand by the decree meant to guarantee the elephants’ safety.
Johnny Rodrigues, the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF), who has worked closely with Pincott over the past 13 years, was quoted as saying he was "disappointed and disgusted" by how the situation had developed.
Rodrigues said the development showed that the Zimbabwean authorities did not "care about wildlife".
Rodrigues said the removal of Pincott from the area signalled the end of the Presidential elephants.
"They will all be shot and that will be the end of the Presidential herd," Pincott was quoted as saying.