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don't want your millions, activist told
Thornycroft, The Sunday Independent (SA)
the ZCTF statement on alleged false reports on conservation in Zimbabwe
Harare - Zimbabwe
government wildlife officials have blacklisted a conservation group
that has raised millions of rands to save animals in the Hwange
National Park, one of Africa's great game reserves.
government has accused Rodrigues of making false reports about the
management of its wildlife areas.
Task Force and raised an international alert 18 months ago when
he revealed that thousands of animals would die in the 14 000-square-kilometre
park in western Zimbabwe unless new pumps were installed at watering
Readers of the
The Sunday Independent and of the The Daily Telegraph in the UK
responded swiftly and donations poured in, most of them from the
UK, South Africa and Australia.
of Hwange Conservation Society was formed to handle donations totalling
about $1 million at a time when the Zimbabwe government had no funds
to maintain the park.
Pumps were sent
from South Africa for dozens of water pans, fuel and vehicles were
taken north for the game rangers, and there was financial support
for underpaid government staff at the park.
1 000 animals had died, most of them of thirst, in the previous
year," Rodrigues said on Friday. "Not one has died in
the dry months since because most of the pumps are now working and
we had good rain last summer."
But this week
Rodrigues was told in a letter from the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife
Management Authority, signed by its director-general, Morris Mtsambiwa:
"Due to continuous negative and false reports emanating from
your organisation about conservation in Zimbabwe, the authority
can no longer afford to associate with you, as this association
is now a liability to the nation . . . with immediate effect the
authority will no longer accept any donations that will come through
been energetic in raising funds with which to preserve Zimbabwe's
dwindling wildlife heritage and regularly criticises both the government
and some private sector safari operators for corruption or destructive
His last alert
to the international media went out three months ago, when he accused
Zimbabwe's largest safari company, Shearwater Adventures - which
operates from Victoria Falls, a World Heritage site - of capturing,
and separating from their mothers, about a dozen young elephants
The young elephants
will be trained and used to give rides to tourists.
both Zimbabwe's National Parks and Wildlife Authority, and Shearwater
Adventures. He said that attempting to domesticate wild animals
was "in contravention of accepted policy worldwide".
One of the young
elephants died shortly after it was captured and the Zimbabwe
National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ZNSCPA)
has laid a charge of cruelty against Shearwater
publicity material claims that the elephants it uses to give rides
to tourists are orphans that it rescued from drought-stricken areas
several years ago. But the company doesn't dispute that the youngsters
it captured last November were taken from their mothers.
A tourist watched
some of the young elephants being shot with anaesthetic darts and
loaded into a large container that, she said, had little ventilation.
She said they were left for 24 hours, in extreme distress, on a
"terribly hot" day.
"I am not
an expert but I was with a couple of people who are, and they were
upset. The distress of the young elephants was dreadful," she
a lawyer for Shearwater Adventures, said on Friday: "We have
vets' reports that confirm that the capture was properly and professionally
carried out, that there is no cruelty and that the charges instigated
by the ZNSPCA cannot be sustained and should be withdrawn."
slammed hunters, most of them from South Africa and the United States,
for decimating the lions of southern Zimbabwe, where they are, if
only in theory, a protected species.
National Park was critically short of funds, Rodrigues exposed the
wildlife authority's purchase of a fleet of top-of-the-range four-wheel-drive
vehicles - for top officials in Harare.
said he would take legal advice on how to respond to the wildlife
authority's decision to refuse to accept money that he had helped
Christmas, British members of Friends of Hwange Conservation Society
gave money for the schooling of the children of park employees.
Many South African
wildlife enthusiasts have trekked to Hwange over the past 18 months
to help to repair pumps and vehicles.
Friends of Hwange
in Harare, which depends on Rodrigues's energy and ability to raise
funds - and on his ability to grab the attention of the international
media - on Friday failed to return phone calls.
officials failed to answer telephones at their Harare headquarters,
or their cellphones. - Foreign Service
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