Some Zimbabweans begin to question the wisdom of promoting trophy hunting
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2011:
HARARE–Seven years after USAid quit subsidizing the Communal
Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources program to
promote trophy hunting in Zimbabwe, some Zimbabwean sources are
cautiously beginning to recognize that CAMPFIRE was a boondoggle
which chiefly benefited insiders of President Robert Mugabe 31-year
authoritarian regime–as long pointed out by ANIMAL PEOPLE.
“Reports from the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force and the
World Wildlife Fund clearly indicate that the country’s wildlife
population continues to dwindle drastically,” wrote Chipo Masara for
the Zimbabwe Standard on May 1, 2011.
The CAMPFIRE scheme to promote “sustainable utilization” of
wildlife “was welcomed by many Zimbabweans,” Masara recalled.
“Unfortunately, most appear to have missed the bit about utilising
the resources in a sustainable manner.”
Steven Kasere, who directed CAMPFIRE in Zimbabwe from 1999 to
2001, partially “blamed the apparent failure of CAMPFIRE on greed,”
wrote Masara. “Animals are killed for financial gain without allowing
them a chance to regenerate.”
But Kasere also blamed 10 years of land invasions and
occupations of private conservancies by Mugabe supporters.
“Urbanites who were never part of CAMPFIRE suddenly became farmers,”
Said Kasere, “Naturally, they started to cut down trees and
kill animals, because they had no knowledge of viable land use
options other than agriculture. In the former CAMPFIRE areas, key
personnel moved to new resettlement areas, leaving Campfire
institutions ineffective. So the land reform was not accompanied by
the necessary institutional arrangements to save wildlife. Hence a
lot of wild animals were killed while natural resource institutions
Summarized Masara, “What is important is to admit that the
wildlife management strategies that Zimbabwe has adopted are just not
working, and to urgently seek to rectify the situation, if the
country’s wildlife is ever to be saved.
The CAMPFIRE program was engineered by Brian Child,
originally from Zimbabwe, now an associate professor of geography at
the University of Florida. CAMPFIRE was funded by USAid in
connection with a package of political trade-offs which in 1989 won
an international embargo on trade in elephant ivory.
From 1989 through 2004, USAid pumped more than $40 million
into CAMPFIRE, essentially subsidizing trophy hunts. CAMPFIRE
raised about $2.5 million per year in revenue, more than 90% of it
from hunting. Mostly, though, CAMPFIRE rewarded Mugabe regime
insiders for neglecting the promises to nationalize resources and
redistribute land that brought them to power. Beginning in 2000,
however, Mugabe began encouraging land invasions, to placate
supporters who had lost patience after 20 years of waiting to be
By 2003, Child acknowledged in a 2007 paper published by the
Property & Environment Research Center, of Bozeman, Montana, “The
central [CAMPFIRE] institutions had all but collapsed in function
and, fueled by vast amounts of donor money especially from USAid,
had become bloated.”
But Child insisted that CAMPFIRE was still a success,
because “Almost half the money generated from the sale of wildlife
was still getting to the communities, albeit this was down from
about three-quarters” eight years earlier, when Child left Zimbabwe
to push the CAMPFIRE approach in Zambia.
Child has also urged Kenya to emulate the CAMPFIRE program.
Carefully worded criticisms of CAMPFIRE surfaced in
Zimbabwean non-government media soon after Wongai Zhangazha of the
Harare-based Zimbabwe Independent disclosed a proposal by Deputy
Minister of Justice Obert Gutu to feed elephant meat to prisoners.
Zimbabwean prison meals “do not meet the approved dietary standards
as stipulated by the law,” Gutu told Wongai Zhangazha. “In one of
our meetings it was discussed extensively how the problem could be
solved,” Gutu elaborated. “It was at this meeting that the ministry
and the Prison Services Commission considered elephant meat as an
Zimbabwean Parks & Wildlife Management Authority spokesperson
Caroline Washaya-Moyo told Wongai Zhangazha that she had heard
nothing about the idea.
Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force founder Johnny Rodrigues
told Wongai Zhangazha that despite official claims that Zimbabwe
currently has about 100,000 elephants, the actual population is
about 35,000. “We should be looking after these intelligent animals
so that they are not killed. Government should actually be putting in
harsh laws to protect these animals,” Rodrigues said.