ZELA Press Statement: Partnerships for Wildlife Conservation
Date of Issue: 03 March 2023
Harare: March 3 is World Wildlife Day; it is on this day that we take time to celebrate all the world’s wild animals and plants. One in eight wildlife species face the threat of extinction, animal populations are declining at unprecedented rates, wild plant species continue disappearing and many face the threat of being wiped out. This loss of biodiversity is a global crisis. If we do not act now, we will lose the contribution that wildlife makes to our lives and the health of our planet. World Wildlife Day reminds us of how urgent it is for humanity to act and address this crisis. This year, the day also marks the 50-year celebration of the coming into force of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
This year’s World Wildlife Day theme is ‘Partnerships for Wildlife Conservation. ’Partnership is key to rebuilding degraded areas and restoring healthy ecosystems. Halting and reversing the alarming loss of biodiversity worldwide needs concerted efforts across governments, civil society, communities, and the private sector. It is imperative to place the voices of local communities and indigenous people at the core while also realizing that they are our world’s most effective guardians of biodiversity. The UN Biodiversity Conference (COP 15) unequivocally endorsed the need for a global plan-of-action that safeguards the rights of indigenous peoples and recognizes their contributions as stewards of nature.
This year’s theme highlights the work we have been doing as ZELA together with other civil society organizations in Zimbabwe through multi-stakeholder engagement to turn commitment into action. Ignoring social, cultural, and political dimensions while focusing only on the ecological impacts of wildlife presents a major challenge in addressing biodiversity loss. Effective wildlife management must be based on public attitudes toward wildlife. Public attitudes are also crucial in curbing wildlife related crimes to successfully protect biodiversity. ZELA continues to call upon all key stakeholders to find practical legal solutions to shift the paradigm from human and wildlife conflict to coexistence.
We believe that sound implementation of mechanisms for effective management of HWC should be part of the larger conversation and development objectives for both people and wildlife resources. We join the rest of the world in celebrating the best wildlife conservation efforts globally, nationally, and locally and commend the government’s approval to establish the Human-Wildlife Conflict Relief Fund for Victims by way of funeral assistance and an amount paid towards hospitalization and treatment. According to the Human-Wildlife Conflict Trends in Zimbabwe, 2021 witnessed 71 deaths and 50 injuries, compared to 60 deaths and 40 injuries in 2020.
Adoption of a bold global biodiversity framework that addresses the key drivers of nature loss is needed to secure our own health and well-being, as well as that of the planet. Together we can address wildlife crime, a primary factor in the decimation and reduction of wildlife populations and species globally and in Zimbabwe. It is estimated that Zimbabwe recorded a total of 345 wildlife cases in 2015-2018 related to poaching and illegal wildlife trade (IWT). These incidents of poaching and IWT have far-reaching ecological and economic consequences that are undermining decades of conservation and development gains. This hinders the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular Goals 14 (Life below water) and 15(Life on land) and has an impact on national budgets.
As ZELA we believe that ownership of conservation must rest with the people who ultimately bear the costs and reap the benefits of the action. That is why we build the capacity of local level institutions to take on roles and responsibilities for sustainable wildlife management.
Whilst we applaud the Government’s concerted efforts in wildlife conservation, we reiterate that
· More needs to be done including mainstreaming climate change in wildlife legal frameworks and ensuring that this is in line with the changing biodiversity threats.
· We call upon stakeholders to adopt a rights-based approach that respects the inherent interconnections between people and place, including securing the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities’ approaches to conservation.
There are many ways in which we can reverse nature’s losses through partnerships for wildlife conservation, including by adopting bolder and more ambitious conservation efforts.
Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association
“Creating a legacy in using the law for environmental justice and sustainable natural resource governance.”
For Further Information, Please Contact:
Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association
26 B Seke Road, Hatfield,Harare,Zimbabwe
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