Jumpo poaching soars: Report
A GLOBAL report has painted a gloomy picture on the future of Zimbabwe’s elephant herd, revealing shocking evidence that the number of Jumbos killed by poachers in Chewore alone increased by 12 percent last year.
This was a period when authorities increased efforts to stem a ruthless slaughter of elephants in Hwange National Park, where reports of cyanide poisoning emerged, with scores of Jumbos succumbing after drinking from poisoned wells.
It appears the dramatic killings spread everywhere.
Poachers ravaged regions where illegal killings were largely out of the public sphere, even though this was executed with precision.
A Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) report released last week to mark the United Nations World Wildlife Day ranked the wildlife rich Chewore among Africa’s hotspots of elephant poaching.
The CITES’ report showed that Chewore was ranked third in terms of illegal killing of elephants during the period, after South Africa’s Kruger National Park, which witnessed a 23 percent rise in poaching and Ruaha-Rungwa in Tanzania, where poaching soared by 15 percent.
The report expressed concern over the “substantial” killings in “one of the most secure sites for elephants in Africa”.
Chewore is situated in the Zambezi Valley, which has seen its elephant population slide to about 12 000 from 19 000 elephants in 2001.
The country has a total of about 100 000 elephants.
The decimation of elephants escalated in most regions except in a few countries like Kenya, the CITES report said.
West, central and southern Africa were among regions affected by an escalation of syndicated poaching, which is fast turning an already bad situation into a full blown catastrophe.
“While the overall poaching levels in Southern Africa remain below the threshold, a troubling upward trend in elephant poaching was for the first time observed in the Kruger National Park in South Africa. Although the overall elephant population in Kruger is not in decline, the situation could change if the trends observed in 2015 continue. Significantly increased poaching levels were also found in Ruaha-Rungwa, United Republic of Tanzania and Chewore, Zimbabwe,” CITES said.
“African elephant populations continue to face an immediate threat to their survival from unacceptably high-levels of poaching for their ivory, especially in central and west Africa where high levels of poaching are still evident. There are some encouraging signs, including in certain parts of Eastern Africa, such as Tsavo in Kenya, where the overall poaching trends have declined, showing us all what is possible through a sustained and collective effort with strong political support,” the report said.
The new data indicated that about 60 percent of elephant deaths in 2015 were at the hands of poachers, with at least 20 000 of them killed across Africa last year.
In Zimbabwe, about 24 000 elephants have been lost to poachers over the past 20 years, prejudicing the hard currency starved economy of an estimated US$3 billion in sport hunting fees alone.
Poachers have become a menace within Zimbabwe’s animal sanctuaries where they are running rings around a poorly resourced Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.
Elephants have been the main target, as poachers seek to satisfy an insatiable demand for ivory, skins, bones and other jumbo organs in some parts of the world.
The poaching of jumbos reached a peak in 2011, when it accounted for about 75 percent of their deaths.
After 2001, elephant poaching began to decline, although many experts say it remained high.
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