Deforestation threatens wildlife, food security 

Source: Deforestation threatens wildlife, food security – NewsDay Zimbabwe

BY OBERT SIAMILANDU

ZIMBABWE is facing food and water insecurity as a result of deforestation.

Home to 350 species of mammals, more than 500 birds and about 142 fish species, Zimbabwe is mostly grassland, but its mountains give way to tropical and hardwood forests.

The country supports more than 100 000 elephants, the second largest population of elephants globally and a growing population of lions and wild dogs.

Once the agricultural breadbasket in Africa, the country has been continuously faced with recurring droughts that cause both food and water security challenges for people and wildlife alike.

At one time, the country had an abundance of forests and wildlife and was the leading destination for wildlife-based tourism, however, political instability is threatening the country’s wildlife and tourism industry.

Deforestation has continued to rise as rural communities use firewood for fuel mainly for curing tobacco in areas such as Hurungwe, according to Emmanuel Fundira, president of the Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe.

“Deforestation has led to direct loss of wildlife habitats as well as general degradation of their habitats,” Fundira said.

“We must understand that removal of trees and vegetation does really reduce the available food and shelter and breeding habitat for most wildlife and any reduction in terms of that habitat loss has got a direct negative effect on our wildlife.

“It’s sad to look at the statistics that, in Zimbabwe, we are losing approximately 20% of our natural forests annually due to deforestation, specifically for tobacco curing.

He added: “We must also understand that we have issues to do with illegal settlements and poachers who invade wildlife and safari areas and all these people cut down trees, leading to deforestation outside protected areas.

“It is such deforestation which results in significant loss of habitat available to wildlife in the buffer zones adjacent to protected areas as well as fragmented wildlife mitigatory corridors. It is of great concern and we must look at various ways to mitigate such negative effects on our habitats.”

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    Mukanya 1 month ago

    Planned deforestation in Mbire under guise of sugar-cane plantation has taken place thus increasing the conflict between humans and wildlife…