Zimbabwe’s wildlife continues to bear the brunt of continued land invasions, with one farm losing as many as 300 zebras in 2009 alone.
More wildlife is at risk, as the Denlynian and Tamari wildlife farms in Beitbridge were invaded last year by people who went further to kill animals, destroying a major attraction at the border town.
The Ferguson family, in charge of the wildlife farms, said the illegal invasions had destroyed Matabeleland South’s wildlife, itself a major foreign currency earner.
“The property is among the last of its kind in Zimbabwe,” the family said in a statement.
“Most, if not all, other smaller game farms and tourist resorts in south-western Zimbabwe have been taken over.”
The family indicated the latest wave of invaders were destroying infrastructure to the extent the cost to revive some would be prohibitive.
“The paradise ended in October 2013 when politically-connected men invaded the property at night, terrified the tourists, trashed the lodge, beat up staff and their children and immediately stole tonnes of frozen meat, trophys and equipment.
“During the 12 months since the invasion we have lost 47 kilometres of game fencing, which will cost $500 000 to replace.
“Virtually the total contents of the one remaining safari lodge were stolen as well as a multitude of company equipment and assets valued at $150 000 and the loss of trading due to the cancellation of safaris at $125 000.
“It is difficult to assess the loss of wildlife, but it was very considerable, most killed by the barbaric method of setting wire snares, which our game scouts have retrieved by the hundreds.”
The family said the invasions of the wildlife properties runs against an ecological survey conducted in 1997, which said the land was “not for human habitation and unsuitable for cattle ranching”.
The invaders of the property have the support of a top government minister (name supplied) and the police, though this could not be verified.
“It would seem that the police are under instructions from some higher political authority not to assist any white-skinned Zimbabwean or their staff other than the compliant brown noses,” the statement continued.
The Ferguson family said it had appealed for help from the Lands, Tourism, Forestry and the Home Affairs ministries, but hit stone walls.