By Alex Bell
The state media campaign to make targeted western sanctions the scapegoat for Zimbabwe’s problems reached new levels on Tuesday, with the Herald newspaper blaming the measures for the poaching crisis at the Hwange National Park.
At least 81 elephants and an untold number of other animals in Hwange have died after members of a suspected poaching syndicate laced salt licks with cyanide and placed the salt at water sources used by the elephants. Nine people have been arrested.
The ZANU PF mouthpiece newspaper reported Tuesday that the mass elephant deaths “have been attributed to the West’s illegal economic sanctions that affected Zimbabwe’s once-vibrant wildlife management system.”
The newspaper, which has been relentless in its publication of anti-sanctions rhetoric, said that it conducted a week-long investigation, which revealed “that failure by parks rangers to thwart increasing poaching was a manifestation of the fiscal constraints that left the authority severely incapacitated.”
The paper makes no mention of the reasons why the targeted, restrictive measures were imposed originally, which are said to be the real cause of the funding issues at the National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.
Johnny Rodrigues, the Chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF) told SW Radio Africa that it is tourism that holds the key to problems facing the cash-strapped Authority. He emphasised that the political situation in Zimbabwe has directly affected the amount of tourism in the country. More....