USAid pushes Zimbabwean “wise use” wildlife management model in Kenya
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2004:
HARARE, NAIROBI–The future of wildlife in Zimbabwe and
Kenya may depend on the outcome of the November 2004 U.S.
Presidential election–or may be decided sooner, as officials in a
position to cash in on consumptive use rush to do it.
U.S. President George W. Bush brought to the White House a
renewed commitment to the wildlife policies of his father George H.
Bush and Ronald Reagan.
Echoing the “sustainable use” rhetoric of the World Wildlife
Fund and African Wildlife Foundation, all three Presidents have
actually been more closely aligned with the Competitive Enterprise
Institute and Safari Club International–and none more so than George
W., who was the Safari Club “Governor of the Year” in 1999 for
vetoing a Texas bill to restrain canned hunts.
Operative assumptions of the George W. Bush administration
African wildlife policy, are that wildlife should pay its own way;
that trophy hunting is the best ecological and economic use for large
wildlife; that breeding huntable populations of wildlife in
captivity is an acceptable alternative to protecting habitat; that
conservation is best motivated by profit rather than altruism; and
that his Republican forebears knew what they were doing, since none
of the Big Five trophy species–African elephant, rhino, lion,
leopard, and Cape buffalo–went extinct on their watch.
The Center for Private Conservation, a Competitive
Enterprise Institute subsidiary, touted Zimbabwe as the showplace
for successful “wise use” wildlife policy during the 2000 U.S.
election campaign. Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, an avowed
Marxist just a few years earlier, seduced the Reagan and George H.
Bush administrations by turning conservation over almost entirely to
the private sector.
In practice, that meant hunting lodges situated on glorified
game ranches called “conservancies.”
Mugabe got out of it CAMPFIRE, the Communal Areas Management
Program for Indigenous Resources, funded by the U.S. Agency for
International Development since 1989. Receiving close to $40 million
from USAid, cumulatively, CAMPFIRE has raised about $2.5 million
per year in revenue, mostly from trophy hunts, and has functioned
as a slush fund for paying off well-placed members of the Zimbabwe
African National Union- Patriotic Front, Mugabe’s revolutionary army
turned political party, ZANU-PF for short.
Committed to the sanctity of private property, the Center
for Private Conservation and Competitive Enterprise Institute might
be a bit embarrassed by now–but do not seem to be. The November
2000 U.S. election was still most of a year away when Mugabe began
allowing mobs of “war veterans” to seize farms and conservancies
belonging to people of European and Asian descent, slaughtering and
eating livestock, poaching and snaring wildlife until there was no
Ranking ZANU-PF officials soon began taking property themselves.
That continues. “The security of workers and wildlife at Hippo Pools
Wilderness Camp is under serious threat from poachers and suspected
ZANU-PF activists who are wreaking havoc in the camp, allegedly in
cahoots with National Parks employees,” reported Munyaradzi Wasosa of
The Zimbabwe Independent in early July 2004.
Iain Jarvis of the Harare-based Wilderness Africa Trust
leases Hippo Pools from the Mufurudzi Safari Area. The safari area
belongs to Zimbabwe National Parks.
Jarvis manages Hippo Pools as a no-hunting wildlife observation area,
but told The Zimbabwe Independent that Mufurudzi game warden Cloud
Masaraure has conflicting plans for it. Since October 2003, Jarvis
said, Masuraure has four times sent ZANU-PF youth and local poachers
to intimidate camp workers and tourists.
The goal appears to be to force Jarvis out, effect a quick
takeover, and exploit the wildlife and other resources as much as
possible before Mugabe, age 80, either dies or is ousted, leaving
Zimbabwe in chaos. Those with money in numbered foreign bank
accounts will likely fare best.
Zimbabwe land minister John Nkomo encouraged such seizures on
June 8, telling the state-owned Zimbabwe Herald that the Mugabe
regime, after dispossessing land owners of more than 42,000 square
miles of former commercial farmland and game reserves during the past
five years, would soon abolish land ownership.
Leases on wildlife conservancies would be limited to 25
years, Nkomo said.
“This will mark the end of private conservation in Zimbabwe,”
Movement for Democratic Change finance spokesperson Eddie Cross
predicted, mourning the national loss of $50 million U.S. per year
in hunting and ecotourism revenue.
“It will take 15 to 25 years just to get the wildlife to
recover,” said Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force chair Johnny
Zimbabwe in 2000 had more than 500 black rhinos. At least 300 have
been poached, Rodriegues told Basildon Peta, Southern Africa
correspondent for the London (U.K.) Independent.
Earlier, Rodrieguez told Munyarazi Wasosa of the Zimbabwe
Independent that the Zimbabwean army, assigned to fight poachers,
had itself become heavily involved in poaching. He claimed
“Eyewitnesses in Kariba saw soldiers airlifting antelope carcasses.”
At least 139 elephants were poached during the past 12
months, National Parks & Wildlife Management Authority director
general Morris Mtsambiwa admitted in June to Masimba Karikoga of the
Zimbabwe Herald. Mtsambiwa said his 1,040 rangers–short 360 of a
full staff–arrest about 250 poachers per month, but that most are
just illegally snaring bush meat or catching fish. Twelve poachers
were killed in shootouts during 2003, he said, and four during the
first half of 2004.
Even as a handful of Zimbabwean wildlife officials tried to
uphold a semblance of law and order, others assisted poachers.
“Documents in possession of the Zimbabwe Independent show that senior
Zimbabwe National Parks game ranger Thomas Chimedza was paid $55
million [Zimbabwe dollars] by Out of Africa, a South
African-registered firm, which wanted to conduct hunts in the Gwayi
and Hwange area,” charged Godrey Marawanika and Ndamu Sandu in the
Zimbabwe Independent of July 16. “National Parks authorities have
concluded that Chimedza was bribed. “
Chimedza denied the allegation.
The Zimbabwe Independent writers reported that Zimbabwe
National Parks principal warden for investigations and security
Leonard Nhidza on May 13 told his superiors that “Chimedza seriously
compromised himself by accepting money from Out of Africa.”
Nhidza “said that as a result of the bribes, Chimedza
allegedly allowed Out of Africa to use electronic lion calls at
night, with spotlights.” Documents were falsified, Nhidza found,
to misrepresent where animals were shot. This deprived the parks
authority “of trophy fees and other related charges,” Marawanyika
and Sandu explained.
Despite the collapse of the purported Zimbabwean model for
wildlife management, USAid under the Bush administration is pushing
Kenya to reopen sport hunting, allied with estate holders who have
organized as the Laikipia Wildlife Forum and subsistence farmers who
are in constant conflict with elephants, lions, baboons, and other
dangerous or crop-damaging species who stray outside the national
This problem cuts in both directions, as park neighbors
often illegally graze livestock and snare bushmeat in protected
wildlife habitat, cutting fences to gain access and using the wire
to make snares.
“The proponents of consumptive use of wildlife in Kenya have
been working hard through USAid,” Youth for Conservation founder
Josphat Ngonyo told ANIMAL PEOPLE. “The most shocking development is
that USAid, in the guise of reviewing Kenya’s wildlife sector, are
using consultants whom they have commissioned to make presentations
[favoring hunting] to Kenyan decision-makers.
“The hidden agenda is pushing for consumptive use,” Ngonyo emphasized.
“This is not surprising following the George W. Bush
administration’s October 2003 proposal to reverse the 30-year
Endangered Species Act ban on trade of listed species, and allow
hunting, capture, and imports of these species from Africa, Asia,
and Latin America.
Changing the model
“Youth for Conservation remains firm in saying that
consumptive use is not the way to go,” Ngonyo said, en route to
China to deliver the same message to an international conference in
Beijing, his trip co-sponsored by ANIMAL PEOPLE and the Winsome
Constance Kindness Trust.
Getting quick profit from wildlife while the getting is good
and then getting out fast is a tradition in Africa that Ngonyo and
fellow YfC members hope to change.
European and American trophy hunters shot the most
spectacular species into scarcity in easily accessible regions across
the continent for about 100 years, then formed the World Wildlife
Fund and African Wildlife Foundation in 1961 to preserve what hunting
The first Kenyan president, Jomo Kenyatta, banned hunting in
1977, but as he was on his deathbed a year later, close associates
allegedly looted and sold the national ivory stockpiles.
Mobuto Sese Seko, the former dictator of Zaire, was a
member of the World Wildlife Fund’s elite 1001 Club, but toward the
end of his 30-year regime he allegedly skimmed the proceeds from
selling the ivory of as many as 50,000 poached elephants.
Ngonyo thinks it is time to give Africa another model, breaking from
the bad habits of colonialism.