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GOVERNMENT says it is re-organising Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) projects so that communities benefit while some elephants will continue to be exported as a measure of managing their population.

Speaking at the World Wildlife Day commemorations here on Thursday, Environment, Water and Climate Minister Cde Saviour Kasukuwere said the country has nearly double its carrying capacity of elephants.

With a population of about 83 000 elephants, the country has a carrying capacity of around 40 000 elephants.

“As a way of managing our elephant population we have to sell some and realise revenue for the benefit of the country,” he said.

The minister said Government was not culling elephants but exporting live ones.

He said Government is moving to reorganise CAMPFIRE programmes so that communities benefit instead of councils administering them.

Some animal rights groups have been raising alarm over the move to export the elephants saying it was leading to the depletion of the elephant population in the country.

There has been an outcry that communities with projects such as Nyami Nyami and Mbire have not benefited from proceeds realised from trophy hunting.

He said councils were selfishly using the money for self enrichment and meeting salary obligations at the expense of communities that play a pivotal role in conserving wildlife.

“Communities take part in the conservation of something they believe will benefit them. We work with our counterparts in local government but there is a lot of mismanagement. Councils are looking after themselves at the expense of the people,” he said.

Minister Kasukuwere bemoaned increased cases of poaching saying it was impacting negatively on efforts to conserve wildlife.

“As Government we would like to warn that we will descend heavily on those involved in poaching of our wildlife.”

Poachers have become daring with some using chemicals such as cyanide with at least 85 elephants dying last year in Hwange from poisoning.

Mashonaland West Minsiter of State Cde Faber Chidarikire said technology should be used to stop poaching before calling on all stakeholders to join the fight against poachers.

Chief Nebiri speaking on behalf of Chief’s Council president Chief Fortune Charumbira said traditional leaders should be involved in the conservation of wildlife in their areas.

He said a portion of proceeds from any activity in the community should be ploughed back to benefit the community.

Source : The Herald