ENVIRONMENT, Water and Climate minister Saviour Kasukuwere says he has taken to social media to raise awareness about environmental issues following the mass poisoning of elephants at the Hwange National Park.
Kasukuwere, one of few technological savvy ministers in President Robert Mugabe’s Cabinet, has been active on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter urging zero tolerance to poaching.
This followed the death of over 95 elephants at the game reserve after they were poisoned by villagers.
The Hwange disaster has even caught the eyes of celebrities including Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey who last week took to Twitter to express his outrage.
Kasukuwere immediately seized on Ramsey’s interest and invited him to Zimbabwe so he could see for himself the country’s conservation efforts.
Although, the Arsenal star has not taken up the offer, the minister believes if he does, it would be a coup for Zimbabwe as the country battles to clean its image in the wake of the worst poaching case in history.
“His visit would be good for the country,” Kasukuwere told Southern Eye on the sidelines of a meeting with villagers under Chief Siphoso’s area in Tsholotsho on Friday.
“He would appreciate the efforts made by the government to stop poaching.”
The villagers told a ministerial team probing the Hwange incident that almost all households in the area bordering the Hwange National Park had cyanide that they used to kill elephants.
Kasukuwere said his ministry would step up awareness campaigns on the need to conserve the environment, utilising social media.
“We have set up teams to utilise social media by creating pages for the ministry and the community to interact,” he said.
“The social media is a powerful tool of communication and the community would make their input on how to deal with this issue at the same time the ministry would be imparting knowledge.
“Poaching is a serious issue not only in Zimbabwe, but in the Sadc region as well.
“We have received a lot of moral support from the world in our efforts to curb the killing of elephants.
Kasukuwere said discussions on social media would not be restricted to poaching, but would include water and climate issues.
“We want to engage the people not only on poaching, but water and climate change as well,” the minister who has a regular Facebook discussion forum, said.
“The communication trends we use have to be in line with the technological developments surrounding us so we are hoping social media would be a very effective tool.”
At the Friday meeting, Chief Siphoso urged the government and the National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority to educate villagers about the need to conserve the environment.
“I’m happy that the ministers came today to spread the word against poaching of elephants,” he said.
“I’m happy that they are part of efforts to spread awareness. If I had done it alone, it would have not been as effective.
“I appeal to parks to engage in public awareness programmes on poaching even when there are no serious incidences of poaching like this.”