By Jason Moyo
Zimbabwe says it wants to raise $40-million to fight increasingly daring poachers, a battle that would include dealing with well-connected cartels, poor villagers marginalised by wealthy game parks, and a parks agency desperately short of cash and rangers.
Conservationists accuse the government of refusing to investigate possible links between senior government officials and wealthy ivory smuggling cartels.
The poisoning of at least 100 elephants in the Hwange National Park has drawn outrage and spurred the government to pledge tougher action. Poachers used cyanide to poison water in the park.
Environment, Water and Climate Minister Saviour Kasukuwere told the Mail & Guardian this week that $40-million is needed to equip rangers from the department of national parks and wildlife, who are fighting more sophisticated and better-armed poaching syndicates.
The government has approached big businesses to help raise some of the funds.
Kasukuwere is talking tough, saying he will take the fight to the doorsteps of those behind the poaching.
Trail to powerful interests
But it is a trail that may lead him to powerful interests, some of them within the government, according to many conservationists.
"Our government knows some of those behind this," the head of one of the country’s largest tour operators said this week, declining to be named. More....