zaterdag 17 november 2007

Massive destruction of southern African wildlife, environment recorded

Three protected, endangered black rhinos slaughtered by 'men in Zimbabwe Army uniform" -

On Wednesday 7 November, the carefully-guarded, much-loved Zimbabwean black rhinos Amber, DJ and Sprinter were murdered on the Imire Wildlife Farm in Wedza, near Marondera.

The three tame, adult black rhino were shot dead by people described as 'poachers' but who were dressed in Zimbabwe army uniforms. Amber was pregnant, due to give birth this week, but her perfectly formed foetus died with her.
Their deaths represent a massive blow to black rhino conservation efforts throughout southern Africa. Its world population fell from 65,000 to 2,300 between 1970 and 1994 -- Zimbabwe 's black rhino population fell from 2,000 to only 527 in December 2005. No new statistics are available but there has been large-scale destruction of the great herds of Zimbabwe.

Imire Game Farm in Wedza, near Marondera, has been involved in wildlife conservation work since 1972. By 1987, Operation Rhino was launched -- which moved all the remaining rhinos from the Zambezi Valley to 'intensive protection zones' such as Imire. It was a last, desperate bid to save Zimbabwe’s last black rhinos.

Amber (pictured here), DJ and Sprinter, along with four other rhino orphans, began their new lives at Imire in 1987 as youngsters. Twenty years after this desperate rescue attempt to continue the species these three adults and one unborn rhino have now been senselessly slaughtered.

Internationally renowned conservationist Dr Ian Player, who spearheaded Operation Rhino was appalled at the new.

Johnny Rodrigues, chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, told SW Radio Africa this week that he believed the shootings were linked to the ongoing illegal eviction of commercial white farmers rather than poaching.

He said: "As far as I am concerned it is some greedy officer in the army or air force that actually wants that property and that’s one way of trying to get the people off. The fact that the poachers were dressed and armed just like Zimbabwean soldiers adds to the suspicion.
"So does the knowledge that the government frequently uses armed soldiers and militia to intimidate and enforce commercial farm evictions. It is also fair to say that the rarity and importance of black rhino conservation efforts to the whole world would be a major stumbling block to any 'greedy officer' who wanted to seize the farm.

"Killing them, dehorned or not, removes the stumbling block."

Large-scale destruction of Zimbabwe's beautiful environment:

The Wildlife Trust reports that the decimation of Zimbabwe’s wildlife and environment has been devastating. Estimates are that more than 80% of all the wildlife kept in conservancies and on commercial farms has been destroyed since the land invasions began in 2000.
"The total loss of murdered wildlife on private game ranches is believed to stand at over 90%, equating to a total of about 560,000 animals." In 2005, the Trust reported on the wide scale destruction witnessed in Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Park, writing:
"The formerly abundant grasslands had been devastated, grossly overgrazed by cattle and goats, which now wandered freely through the area. There was abundant evidence of the hunting and slaughter of wildlife with rifles. The game wardens who at one time jealously guarded the wildlife against poachers were instructed by their new political bosses to let things be.'

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