The Chinese government has donated 40 new vehicles and equipment to improve the counter-poaching and conservation capabilities of Zimbabwe’s Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (PWMA).
The donation comes as the authority fights a losing battle against the use of cyanide and termic poisons to kill elephants by poachers in a scourge that has claimed more than 100 elephants and other scavenger species in four national parks since late September.
Environment, Water and Climate minister Opah Muchinguri commissioned the 10 four-wheel drive double cab patrol vans, 8 heavy duty trucks, 8 tractors, 7 single-cab pick-up, ten graders and 3 dump trucks, spares and accessories after handover by Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe Huang Ping.
All the vehicles are Foton Motors models. The donations also includes 30 solar power chargers, hand-held Global Positioning System (GPS) handsets, telescopes, flash-lights and military boots for use by game rangers while on patrol.
The equipment is expected to be used to fight poaching at Hwange National Park, the country’s largest wildlife sanctuary, and Mana Pools National Park, a World Heritage site in northern Zimbabwe.
“Zimbabwe is blessed with natural resources but at the same time is battling to protect its endangered species. This equipment will help Zimbabwe in running its (wildlife) conservation programmes,” Ping said.
Muchinguri also hailed the donation saying it would help Zimbabwe stop rampant poaching crimes like the recent spate of cyanide poisoning of elephants, which she said were an inside job by parks rangers.
n July, China donated another counter-poaching package which consisted of vehicles, water supply and camping equipment worth $2 million for counter-poaching operations in Hwange.
However, poaching has worsened in the park over the past three months amid government concerns that some disgruntled and underpaid parks rangers are involved in poaching.
To date, seven game rangers have been arrested in connection with the cyanide poisoning of elephants in Hwange. Over the past two weeks, 35 others have been transferred to other parks as the government moves to dismantle the alleged internal poaching and ivory trafficking syndicates based in Hwange.