The number of wild animals being trapped for food by local people who live on the edge of Hwange National Park has increased dramatically during the country’s Covid-19 induced national lockdown, Nhau has learnt.
The sudden rise of poaching activities has been attributed to the negative economic impact caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Large animals such as elephants, buffalo and zebra are strong and usually break the wire snares but they escape with life-threatening wounds.
Wilton Nsimango, education and community development manager for Painted Dog Conservation (PDC), an organisation which deals with conserving and protecting the endangered painted dog, told Nhau that they had noticed an upsurge of poaching activities during the Covid-19 lockdown.
“Poaching activities increased extremely, which is a concern. During the period ending June 2020 we recovered and confiscated 1 886 snares compared to 406 snares confiscated during the same period in 2019.
“Many people were in the employ of safaris but are no longer employed due to the shut downs. Some are breadwinners but are no longer earning, therefore, most of these people illegally kill and sell the wild animals,” said Nsimango.
Nsimango revealed that PDC had augmented its anti-poaching unit in order to meet the increased poaching activities,.
“The increase in poaching made us turn the anti-poaching unit into an essential service. We increased the size of anti-poaching team by 60 percent and they fully patrol in communities and the game reserve during the lockdown period to curb poaching activities in the Hwange District.”
PDC has been working closely with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) in fighting poaching, particularly during this global pandemic.
Chief Dingani Nelukoba from Lupote in Hwange district, raised concern over the increase in poaching activities.
“Of course, poaching has been there for a long time in Hwange, but there is a marked increase. This affects the communities we live in. The snares put up by the poachers do not only trap wild animals, even our own domestic animals are caught in the crossfire,” said Chief Nelukoba. Nhau/Indaba