Saturday, August 13, 2005

Good News: Part 3: happy happy animals continued

KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, South Africa; Aug 12 (IPS) - The Pafuri-Banyini pan in South Africa's north-eastern Kruger National Park teems with game. Elephant bulls amble among clumps of marula trees and impala leap gracefully across the grassland, where buffalo graze.

Located in the triangle between the Limpopo and Luvuvhu rivers where South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique meet, the pan is more than an idyllic corner of Kruger, however: it will ultimately lie at the heart of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. This conservation area will encompass 35,000 square kilometres, allowing animals to follow ancient migration routes between the Kruger in South Africa, the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique and Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe.

The pressures that are being brought to bear on the pan are indicative of problems that the transfrontier park as a whole will have to grapple with -- a matter of increasing importance as the deadline approaches for dropping another stretch of border fencing to create the conservation area.

"Zimbabweans cross the river, lay snares and sell bush meat in the villages in South Africa. Then they buy groceries here to take back to Zimbabwe,"...

(here there is a long discussion of the problem of making the parks safe for animals and preventing local animals from being poached by local villagers and by refugees who live nearby...)

...Maluleke’s concerns about Zimbabwe are echoed amongst staffers at the Peace Parks Foundation, however.

The country has become increasingly isolated over the past five years, in the wake of a controversial programme of farm seizures, and three elections marred by allegations of human rights abuse and vote rigging. These events have taken their toll on Zimbabwe’s economy, creating mass unemployment and triple digit inflation. Certain Zimbabweans have turned to poaching in a bid to make ends meet.

"Until Zimbabwe comes back into the fold nothing will happen there because donors are not going to put up money," said Van Riet.

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