US delegation in country for wildlife conservation, regional security talks
An American delegation is in Zimbabwe as part of a four-country fact-finding mission to better understand issues of wildlife conservation and regional security issues.
The delegation, led by Arizona’s Senator, Jeff Flakes, which will also visit Mozambique, Botswana and Namibia will be in Zimbabwe till February 17, 2016 upon which it will meet government representatives, members of the private sector as well as civil society organisations.
According to a statement by the US Embassy Harare Public Affairs Office, the visit will enable the representatives to learn about issues of importance in the US-Zimbabwe bilateral relationship, including the protection and conservation of wildlife.
“The delegation will meet Embassy staff and has requested meetings with representatives of the government of Zimbabwe,” read the statement.
“The delegation consists of Senators Jeff Flake, Thad Cochran, Christopher Coons, Ben Cardin and Representative Adam Schiff.”
Jeff Flake sits on the US Judiciary committee, Thad Cochran serves on the Senate Committee on Rule and Administration whilst Christopher Coons serves on the Appropriations, Foreign Relations, Judiciary, Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
Ben Cardin is a Ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Representative Adam Schiff, who represents California’s 28th district, has, throughout his tenure in Congress focused on growing the economy and bolstering the US national security.”
This visit comes seven months after Minnesota dentist, Walter Palmer and a professional hunter Theo Bronkhorst shot dead a lion called Cecil, at Hwange Game Park, sparking international online outrage from animal conservationists.
Relations between Zimbabwe and the US, concerning wildlife have been strained, following the 2014, suspension of imports of sport-hunted elephant trophies from Zimbabwe by the US, which cited questionable management practices in Zimbabwe as well as lack of effective law enforcement.
The suspension which followed the poisoning of elephants by poachers using cyanide at Hwange National Park, negatively affected the revenue brought in by trophy hunting by 20 to 30 percent.
In their statement, the US wildlife department had said: “Given the current situation on the ground in both Zimbabwe and Tanzania, the service is unable to make positive findings required under the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora Species Act to allow import of elephant trophies from these countries.”
The trophy hunting industry in Zimbabwe brings in between $40 to $100 million annually. FinX