via Petition to Save Zimbabwe’s Presidential Elephants Now May 20, 2014
To the Honorable Ministers, Cabinet Members and Politburo Members: Hon Douglas Mombeshora Minister for Lands and Rural Resettlement; Hon Walter Mzembi Minister for Tourism and Hospitality Industry. Zimbabwe, The Hon Saviour Kasukuwere, Minister for Environment, Government of Zimbabwe. via Fax and Mail
Dear Hon Ministers, Cabinet Members and Politburo Members,
Further to the invitation by the Hon Walter Mzembi Minister for Tourism and Hospitality Industry in the Herald article published 16 May 2014 to write to his offices and engage with the Permanent Secretaries, Ministers and Politburo, we as conservationists and concerned citizens present to you our petition titled ‘Save the Presidential Elephants Now’.
The petition states: The land grab that has recently taken place in Kanondo area is illegal and a threat to the future of the Presidential Elephants herd.
We, the undersigned, contend that the herd of elephants known as the Presidential Elephants by Decree of the President the Hon Robert Mugabe in 1990 and reiterated in 2011 are an important part of Zimbabwe’s international reputation as a premiere wildlife tourism destination. We contend that the safety of the Presidential Elephants is a very important issue to Zimbabwe.
The Kanondo area’s existing photographic safari operators and the Presidential Herd Conservation Project have protected the elephants by their presence and active conservation activities. Since the occupation by Elisabeth Freeman (aka Elisabeth Pasalk) and her cohorts the land, they have named “Gwango Conservancy” has been advertised as a safari destination. The land has been closed to many of the eco-tourism operators and the Presidential Elephant Conservation Project, this denial of access puts the Presidential Elephants and their protected conservation status at risk.
It is of concern that the people claiming this land have connections to other Zimbabwean nationals who are connected to hunting operations. Whilst we do not know that hunting has or will take place on the ‘Gwango Conservancy’, the concern for the wellbeing of the Presidential Elephants and other wildlife in this area is obvious.
Our community has contacted the Hon Minister for Environment Saviour Kasukwere with urgency in March and April 2014 in regards to this matter and no response or action has been forthcoming.
We seek your assistance as the Hon Ministers of the portfolios responsible for this issue – Lands and Rural Resettlement, and Tourism and Hospitality Industry. You are in a position to take action to address this issue in parliament and immediately enforce the Cabinet Directive of December 2013 and evict the occupiers and any staff/cohorts from the land subject to that order on the Kanondo conservation area (State land) adjacent to the Hwange NP.
Your ministries will be judged on your ability to respond to this request. The eyes of the world are watching! Obviously it is time that action is taken to the Government. This petition and all undersigned urge you to do the right thing.
With all respect and urgency, we the concerned citizens of Zimbabwe and the world (the undersigned) request that you:-
1) Take action to enforce the Cabinet Directive 2013 and evict the illegal occupiers, with all urgency to ensure the safety of the Presidential Herd and the environment of the Kanondo area.
2) Prosecute the illegal occupiers, to the full extent of the law, to ensure that all people know that individuals cannot just ‘take over’ State Land and ignore sensitive environmental and conservations status for their own gain.
Thank you Hon Ministers, we are counting on you, the future of this iconic Presidential Elephant Herd and their habitat is in your hands.
Sincerely, Looking forward to your formal reply,
Kenesias Dambakurima and *3700+ Zimbabwean & world citizens. The Signatories at petition, will be sent to your offices forthwith. https://www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/minister-of-lands-resettlement-save-zimbabwe-presidential-elephants-now
Further commentary on this matter here: http://www.tourismupdate.co.za/NewsDetails.aspx?newsId=72405