The Herald (Harare)

17 August 2012

Zimbabwe: Issuing of Hunting Permits to Black Farmers Spot On

The issuing of hunting permits to 25 black farmers allocated lots at the Save Valley Conservancy last week is testimony of Government's commitment towards indigenising every facet of the economy and thrusting indigenous people at the core of economic development.

There is no doubt whatsoever that there is big money to be made in wildlife farming, and this easily explains why white conservancy operators were refusing to co-exist with new farmers, the reason for the eight-year stalemate.

We salute the Government for effecting the 51 percent shareholding for indigenous farmers and 49 percent for white farmers in the Save Valley Conservancy and urging co-existence between the parties.

It must, however, be noted that the issuing of permits to black farmers on Thursday was a major breakthrough in the history of wildlife farming in Zimbabwe given that for many years it had been a preserve of a few white farmers who shut the doors for others.

The black farmers should also be aware that getting hunting permits is one thing, as while it calls for celebration, it also heralds the beginning of the drama, since co-existence is not easy given our different backgrounds. There is indeed need for the parties to find each other for the sake of progress.

They must work together to manage and develop the conservancy, market their hunting quotas, create anti-poaching and disease control units.

They will all be doomed if they fail to do this as one people.

Together they must enforce orderly hunting by ensuring they all stick to their hunting quotas and rules of hunting, such as the restriction of night hunts and adherence to trophy size.

The National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority must remain strict on the rules and regulations for hunting without fear or favour.

The permit holders are expected to help the authority with accountability so as to ensure sustainable hunting, security to tourists and complement the authority's robust conservation efforts.

We are convinced the new farmers will not find this a tall order and will definitely be up to the task, as failure to do so would spell doom for everyone involved in hunting.

There is nothing really so difficult or requiring serious expertise in hunting as the white farmers wanted to portray, save for the fact they wanted to make all the money by themselves.

All animals in the conservancy belong to National Parks, which seconds two officers or more to the farmers to help in management and monitoring. Hunting quotas are issued between April and November every year and farmers are expected to market their quotas overseas for buyers to come.

Conservancy operators are mandated to employ professional hunters, who are then tested and certified by the National Parks, and so essentially one does not have to be a professional hunter to get a hunting permit. Anyone can be given the permit and gets on with the business as long as they adhere to the rules and regulations of hunting as stipulated by the authority.

We remain optimistic that the parties will be able to co-exist and work together towards achieving orderly hunting.

We now want to see more people from varying backgrounds also being allocated lots in conservancies and getting hunting permits.

Faces that have benefited in other sectors must not continue to do so at the expense of others. Indeed the indigenisation and empowerment faces cannot be the same everywhere but rather they must cut across all sections of society and show a real national appeal.

Indeed this development is a landmark and will without any doubt further consolidate the land reform and indigenisation programme.

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