Cecil’s death: Hunting business threatened

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THE country has a right to be suspicious about the hype given the death of Cecil the lion by the international media and the West as these have always had a sinister agenda where Zimbabwe is concerned.
The issue now has more than 800 million hits on Google.
The killing coincided with US President Barack Obama’s visit to the African Union (AU) and the calls to have Cecil’s killer, Walter James Palmer, face justice in Zimbabwe and the lobby to ban trophy imports from the country is nothing, but a ploy to destabilise an industry that has ensured a steady income into the country.
Cecil was killed outside the Hwange National Park at Antoinette Farm, in Gwayi River Conservancy on July 1 2015.
The hunter, who arrowed him is an American dentist, Palmer.
Safari activities that include hunting, directly and indirectly benefit over
800 000 households.
Unfortunately we seem to have joined a bandwagon of people with a negative agenda; are we all ‘mourning’ for the right reasons?
This gigantic outpour of ‘grief’ has seen in a very short space of time imposition of bans on the transportation of trophies from the country by some American Airlines, Delta Airlines and United Airlines.
This may be the beginning of where and how far the West is willing to take the Cecil issue, destruction of the hunting business in the country.
They did it in 2013 with the cyanide poisoning of about 300 elephants in Hwange National Park some years ago, it destabilised the smooth flow of business.
It was the same with our diamonds; they simply labelled them ‘blood diamonds’.
Misrepresentation of local issues on the international platform by the West’s relentless media and so-called ‘rights activists’ have prejudiced the country.
Many animals have been killed on the continent, some endangered, by Westerners, many who are prominent, but no noise has been made comparable to the hullabaloo created by the death of this lion, Cecil, that carries the name of the imperial architect of colonialism in Africa, Cecil John Rhodes.
One cannot help, but wonder if this noise would have been made had the lion been called Chaminuka or Chinengundu.
While people, Westerners mostly and those joining the bandwagon, ‘mourn’ the lion some of us everyday we are being reminded of Cecil John Rhodes whose evil continues to haunt us as he lies at our sacred Njelele shrine at Matopo Hills.
Perhaps the outcry is huge because he had become a living symbol of a Western hero.
It is no doubt that Cecil the lion was earning the country a lot of revenue attracting tourists, but we have other lions, we definitely can find another with a black mane.
Cecil’s death was unfortunate, but we must move on and not bring a whole industry to a halt.
There is no need for the industry to get into a tailspin.
Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority’s Edson Chidziya said authorities will ensure that such an unfortunate incident does not happen again.
“The possibility of having more cases of such nature is there, but we are striving to maintain the integrity of the industry not to expose our clients,” Chidziya said.
“Trophy hunting remains the cornerstone of sustainable utilisation of wildlife which Zimbabwe has been doing for many years and it is a livelihood issue for many of our communities hence our efforts to make sure we investigate the whole industry and nip the problem in the bud.”
The president of the Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe (SOAZ), Emmanuel Fundira, said there are elements that sought to destabilise the Safari industry, one of the most enviable on the continent.
“Cecil was a draw-card for the tourism sector as many tourists came for his interesting features,” said Fundira.
“We believe there are a lot of forces behind this who want to disable Zimbabwe from enjoying the free ranging wildlife because we are in an enviable state.
“A lot of people are benefiting from this industry and we will continue to promote sustainable utilisation of wildlife because it is an industry than racks in more than a US$100 million a year.”
The chairman of the Professional Hunters and Guides Association, Louis Muller said there is need to clarify the issue and map the way forward.
“This has been an isolated case and unfortunately it will have a negative impact on business although we do not expect that this will go for a long period,” Muller said.
Zimbabwe Parks has since tightened hunting regulations in all areas outside the parks estates.
The Authority is working with other law enforcement agencies to crackdown on undesirable elements in the sector.
Meanwhile, hunting of lions, leopards and elephants in areas outside Hwange National Parks has been suspended.
Since the death of Cecil, bow hunting has also been suspended with immediate effect, it will only be authorised by the Director-General of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and hunters will be accompanied by parks staff whose costs will be met by the landowner.

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