Environmental lawyers urge government to align wildlife laws

HARARE- Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA), has called on Government to align laws of animal management following passing on of new constitution in 2013.

In its statement for the World Wildlife Day commemorated on 3 March annually, Zela said one of the critical issues that need urgent attention is the alignment of wildlife sector laws that have not been aligned to 2013 constitution promulgated in 2013.

Six years down the line the sector is still being governed by an-outdated legislation. This is deeply saddening considering that several policies have been drafted but none has seen the light of the day. These policy and legislation gaps require urgent consideration so that they speak to present-day challenges.

‘‘Moreover, these policies are also not in tandem with international best trends and practices. Zimbabwe has policies and legislations that do not address the sector’s challenges around climate change, mining and human wildlife conflict which remain huge threats,’ said the statement.

It further said ZELA is also concerned with the transboundary issues affecting the sector which also need urgent attention.

It called on improved laws and policies that govern the country’s flora and fauna.

‘‘As we commemorate, World Wildlife Day, we urge Government and other stakeholders to manage wildlife sector for a sustainable, transparent and accountable way, we have no doubt it can contribute towards socio-economic development in Zimbabwe’’

The statement said Wildlife day is significant to ZELA as it is for Zimbabwe and the rest of the world.

“This day comes at a time when our government has taken a stance in the sale of ivory and is advocating for the lifting of the ivory trade ban by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITIES).

‘ZELA is playing a critical part in the wildlife sector through its wildlife programming. The organisation has over the years partnered with different stakeholders in a bid to find robust solutions to some of the major challenges currently facing the sector. Under the Global Environmental Facility 6 (GEF 6) project titled “Strengthening Biodiversity and Ecosystems Management and Climate Smart Landscapes in the Mid to Lower Zambezi Region of Zimbabwe”

ZELA is a collaborating partner in the implementation of the project. In partnership with the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) and Bio Hub under the leadership of Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZNPWMA), ZELA is facilitating the development of a Human and Wildlife Conflict Policy.

The organisation appreciates the work the government of Zimbabwe is doing through the department of National Parks in trying to reform and review current policies and legislation in the wildlife sector. This is indeed a step in the right direction.

The statement says the day comes at a time when Zimbabwe’s wildlife sector is faced with several challenges that require urgent attention from government and other relevant authorities.

The statement comes after Zimbabwe Wildlife Management and National Parks (Zimparks) coordinated a stake-holders meeting at Chinhoyi caves recently.

Zimparks director-general Fulton Upenyu Mangwanya revealed that a multi sectoral approach for wildlife management.

“We are trying to come up with a holistic and multi sectoral approach to curb poaching through crime prevention unit. Wildlife crimes are on the rise but we aim for a zero tolerance on poaching this year,’ he said recently.