Zimbabwe will retain its status as a must-see international hunting destination
Emmanuel Koro, Analysis
DESPITE the disruptive waves of the Covid-19 pandemic that continue to result in overseas travel bans, the Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe (SOAZ) plans to launch a vigorous campaign in 2022 to maintain Zimbabwe’s status as one of Africa’s most attractive hunting destinations.
International hunting has emerged as one of the most promising industries whose revenues have great potential to support wildlife and habitat conservation in hunting areas of southern Africa, including Zimbabwe. At the same time, it can finance the development of rural infrastructure.
The benefits of international hunting have therefore enabled rural communities to coexist with and value wildlife more and, in turn, continue to perceive the need to conserve it as well as its habitat.
Therefore, SOAZ’s drive to continue promoting Zimbabwe as a must-see international hunting destination for hunters around the world has great potential to increase funding for wildlife.
It also promotes habitat conservation as well as the socio-economic development of hunting communities scattered across the country.
“In Zimbabwe, we have sought to open up new source markets, in particular Central Europe and Russia, with the aim of reducing over-reliance on limited source markets,” said SOAZ President, Dr Emmanuel Fundira.
“As an organization, we always make sure to attend all major hunting shows (marketing platforms) and this level of ongoing interaction helps maintain knowledge of the destination.”
Dr Fundira also confirmed that SOAZ will also market Zimbabwe as one of Africa’s most attractive international destinations in Dallas, Texas early next year at the International Hunting Convention, where most countries Africans will market their hunts before the start of the hunting season in April 2022..
He said that international hunting revenues “served as a source of funding for state agencies” and that the hunting industry continued to contribute to habitat conservation and “was also helping to control blasts. of the wild population “.
SOAZ members include safari hunting companies / outfitters and professional hunters and guides who reinvest in any areas they operate by engaging in wildlife and habitat conservation initiatives.
“Good examples include the Save and Bubye conservancies and of course most if not all of the CAMPFIRE projects,” said Dr Fundira.
For international hunting to survive, it is necessary to ensure conservation of wildlife and habitat.
As a result, SOAZ and its partners such as the Zimbabwe Professional Guides Association (ZPGA) have worked with Zimbabwean hunting communities to conserve wildlife and its habitat.
In a statement released this month, the ZPGA said one of its short-term anti-poaching efforts included removing disused telephone wires along the boundaries of Hwange National Parks, working with many other interested and dedicated partners. If the wire had not been removed, “it might have been used to trap animals.”
“The idea was conceived as a way for members of the Professional Guides Association of Zimbabwe (ZPGA) to give back to wildlife conservation and at the same time spend time outdoors that they love.” ZPGA Vice President John Laing said.
“The current Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the need for such a concept. With no clients in 2020 in the consumer and non-consumer tourism sectors, and a still very limited season in 2021, there is little revenue and funding for the conservation and protection of our most valuable and most valuable resources. fragile, our fauna, and the wild spaces in which the fauna exists and on which it depends for its survival.
The ZPGA represents professional hunting guides who play a key role in the hunting industry in ensuring safety and well-being, and in monitoring the conduct of hunter clients on hunting safaris.
International hunting safaris are marketed and organized (equipped) by safari hunting companies or hunting entrepreneurs.
Safari hunting companies employ professional hunting guides for the duration of the safari. They also work with the Zimbabwean hunting communities where they take international hunters to lead the hunts.
Meanwhile, a new organization of hunting communities in Zimbabwe, the Community CAMPFIRE Association of Zimbabwe, praised SOAZ and ZPGA’s efforts to promote Zimbabwe as a must-see international destination; in order to benefit wildlife and habitat conservation and to help support infrastructure developments in local communities.
“The vigorous marketing of Zimbabwe as a staple international hunt is a good idea and good news for communities living with wildlife, because if the benefits of wildlife are maximized, the support of local communities is also possible,” said Mr. Ishmael Chaukura, President of Zimbabwe’s newly formed CAMPFIRE Community Association which operates independently without the oversight of the rural district councils and lobbies for the community to get the maximum benefit from international hunting income.
“The risk to the international hunting industry if it fails to conserve wildlife and habitat and maximize community benefits is that commercial poaching will increase as well as the expansion of land for agricultural production.
Land saved for wildlife conservation will be replaced by agricultural activities, as communities may decide to explore other livelihood options. “
Mr Chaukura, who is also a representative of the Masoka hunting community, said the dictatorial campaigns by Western animal rights groups to ban the importation of hunting trophies into Western countries such as the Kingdom United will not be successful as long as international hunting continues to benefit wildlife and habitat. conservation in Africa, in particular by supporting the socio-economic development of hunting communities.
“Nothing and no one can ever stop international hunting in Africa, including Zimbabwe,” said Mr. Chaukura. “The Masoka School, based on the income from international wildlife hunting, has so far trained two doctors and more doctors and professionals will be trained in the future.
The Masoka school has also trained accountants, teachers, nurses, technicians and engineers, and so on. International revenues from wildlife hunting allow children born into poverty to escape it through education.
These profits from international hunting revenues make us understand the need to conserve wildlife and its habitat. “
Emmanuel Koro is an award-winning, Johannesburg-based freelance environmental journalist who writes extensively on environment and development issues in Africa.