Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Zimbabwe: Elephant Conservationist gives up in the face of illegal land takeover in Hwange NP

The fallout over an 'illegal' land claim in the Hwange National Park has seen one of the country's top elephant conservationists close down a key elephant conservation project.

The Zimbabwe 'Presidential Elephant Conservation Project' was founded and has been run by Sharon Pincott since 2001, with the aim of protecting the Presidential Elephant Herd, a unique herd of wild elephants that are meant to be protected by Presidential decree. In 2011 Pincott successfully lobbied Robert Mugabe to re-pledge his support for the elephant herd. This was in the face of land invasions, poaching and other threats to Zimbabwe's elephant population.

Sharon Pincott announced on Monday that she is stopping her work. The announcement has followed a worsening fight caused by the takeover of a piece of land in the Hwange National Park, which serves as the herd's home range.

The land in the Kanondo area has been claimed by a woman who insists she has an inheritance claim to the land, despite a 2013 directive by Zimbabwe's Cabinet that offer letters for the land be withdrawn. In what has been described as a case that "so reeks of incompetence and lack of care, of ignorance, of greed, of covering butts, of back-handers, and of the corruption that this country is supposedly, right now, trying to stamp out," the Cabinet directive of 2013 has been ignored. Instead, the Kanondo land claimant has forged ahead with the building of a safari lodge.

Concern has been raised amid reports that she is the sister of a known Zimbabwean hunting safari operator named Rodger Madangure.

Sounds like they're all going to die.

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