In 2014, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) provided over $300,000 for elephant and rhinoceros conservation in Zimbabwe, pushing the amount that the agency has donated in Zimbabwe since 2002 over the $1 million mark to $1.25 million. This year’s contributions were matched with funds from other donors and non-governmental organizations for a total of over $750,000 for conservation activities in Zimbabwe.
In accordance with the U.S. African Elephant Conservation Act of 1989 and the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act of 1994, these funds were awarded to support anti-poaching activities in Gonarezhou National Park, home to one of Zimbabwe’s largest elephant populations, as well as to support monitoring and management of rhinoceros populations in the country’s lowveld region and Matopos National Park. These projects are complemented by USFWS programs throughout Africa supporting law enforcement activities in all elephant and rhinoceros range states, as well as demand reduction efforts targeting elephant and rhinoceros products in consumer countries. With only $1.4 million available for all 37 elephant range states and $700,000 for all rhinoceros in Africa, the USFWS prioritizes funding in places that are both biologically important and under threat. Zimbabwe has significant populations of elephants and rhinoceros, both of which are under unprecedented threat from poaching throughout Africa.
U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe Bruce Wharton commented, “As part of the United States’ regional support for wildlife conservation, we are proud to assist Zimbabwe’s wildlife protection programs. Zimbabwe’s wildlife resources are irreplaceable, and if managed sustainably, can provide a long-term source of tourism revenues, providing jobs and economic opportunities throughout the country.”
Wildlife trafficking is one of the most profitable types of transnational crime, with annual revenues estimated to be as much as $10 billion. On February 11, 2014, the United States released a National Strategy on Wildlife Trafficking, which represents a coordinated effort to combat wildlife trafficking and assist foreign governments in building the capacity needed to tackle wildlife trafficking and related crime. Consistent with this strategy, in October 2013, the United States supported the formation of a Wildlife Enforcement Network for Southern Africa. In Zimbabwe, both rhinoceros and elephant populations are under threat from poaching. Last year, at least 105 elephants, along with other wildlife species, were killed in Hwange National Park by poachers using cyanide.