The Sunday Mail
Sunday Mail Reporter
ZIMBABWE is one of the 10 countries in the world with the best wildlife conservation methods, according to a research by Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit in partnership with Panthera.
Oxford is a research university based in England, while Panthera is a US-based organisation devoted exclusively to the conservation of the world’s 40 wild cat species and their ecosystems.
Researchers found that wildlife destinations in Africa dominated the list of high performers, while many affluent countries are not doing a lot to preserve game.
The recognition of the country’s outstanding conservation efforts coincided with World Ranger Day on Friday (July 31), but this year’s commemorations were low key due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The other nine countries that make up the top 10 list are Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Canada, Bhutan, Central African Republic and Norway.
The study acknowledged that in Zimbabwe, the protection of wildlife is a national priority.
“It has Government-assigned vast game reserves dedicated solely to wildlife. As such, locals were removed from the areas and hunting was prohibited to let the wildlife populations there flourish.
“A total of 13 percent of Zimbabwe’s land is protected and is managed by the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority (ZimParks). They now have a total of nine recreational parks, 10 national parks, four safari areas, three sanctuaries, and four big botanical gardens.”
ZimParks spokesperson Mr Tinashe Farawo told The Sunday Mail that the research was an affirmation of the country’s outstanding conservation efforts.
“There is enough evidence that as a wildlife management authority we are doing something right. The endorsement from Oxford . . . could not have come at a better time,” he said.
“We have always said the booming wildlife population in the country is a result of good management practices. Going forward, we need to do more to ensure that rural communities that share borders with these animals are benefiting.
“With this Civid-19-induced lockdown, we need more resources for law enforcement, reacting to problem animal reports and research. But without doubt our animals are in good hands.
“In fact, most of the countries that criticise us have poached their animals to extinction.”
The study ranks 152 countries on a Megafauna Conservation Index (MCI), which is a composite of three elements: the proportion of land occupied by megafauna in a country; the percentage of the megafauna habitat that is strictly protected; and the percentage of gross domestic product devoted to funding for domestic and international conservation efforts.