Empower villagers to save wildlife: MDC-T

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THE government should create jobs for villagers residing in wildlife-rich areas and uplift their communities to ensure they protect animals from poachers and preserve the environment, MDC-T shadow Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources minister Thamsanqa Mahlangu has said.

NQOBANI NDLOVU
STAFF REPORTER

This follows the arrest and alleged torture of Tsholotsho villagers by Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) for the poisoning of elephants.

Mahlangu said poaching was rampant because villagers were not benefiting from protecting animals.

“Mechanisms should be put in place to ensure that jobs are created in those areas so that people are uplifted enough to know the benefit of wildlife to their communities,” Mahlangu said.

“The people must benefit from the natural resources in their areas so that they can protect them from external attack.”

Conservationists allege that poachers take advantage of poor villagers and pay them small amounts of money to poison animals.

“The government must ensure that the people’s dignity is restored to protect villagers from well-resourced poaching syndicates who are paying them as little as $500 to poison water points.

“The MDC-T position is that the best security for the country’s national parks are the people who live around them,” Mahlangu added.

The MDC-T, human rights groups and conservationists last week called for the setting up of an independent commission to investigate the syndicates behind the killing of over 100 elephants recently.

They alleged that villagers were just but small fish as the network of poachers involved top government officials who were now trying to cover up by descending on poor villagers.

“We reiterate our position that the people involved in the purchasing of cyanide used to kill the elephants are not the villagers, but a well-connected and orchestrated international syndicate, which involves some senior politicians in conjunction with senior parks officials,” Mahlangu added.