BY PATRICIA SIBANDA
THE Environment ministry, in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority on Wednesday conducted a consultative meeting on how the wildlife policy can be reviewed to benefit both local authorities and surrounding communities.
The meeting, held in Bulawayo, was an effort to balance the core existence between communities, wildlife and the rural district councils.
Environment ministry national co-ordinator Prosper Matondi said reviewing the policy would be a game changer in the wildlife management, considering that a lot has changed in the past two and half decades, the last time the policy was reviewed.
“Population has grown, but based on our reading of the situation, we have not been able to do basic stuff like understanding nature, the diversity of our wildlife and even the figures of the population,” Matondi said.
“We are not precisely too clear, something that the policy will guide us in terms of creating the framework for the collection of data around wildlife species.”
Matondi said the ministry was taking into cognisance the growth of human population in the past 25 years as a major contributor in the human and wildlife conflict.
He said the policy was going to help in guiding the government when it comes to reducing wildlife and human conflicts.
“So the policy will help us in terms of rules and the regulations, the definitions of issues that people are mentioning in the workshop, to say, who owns the wildlife, where is it found, who manages it and who benefits from it?” Matondi said.
Chief Jabulani Mphini of Bulilima said the review of the policy wiould bring change to communities which are currently not benefiting from wildlife.
“I think after the review of the policy, a lot of things will change because communities out there are worried that they are not benefiting from the wildlife that disturbs the areas they live in,” Chief Mphini said.
He said elephants were destroying their fields, yet when they are killed, villagers do not benefit from it.
Chief Mphini said the rural district councils should at least share the dividends from sale of ivory with the community members so that the villagers also benefit.