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-The Herald

THERE is growing evidence that the quality and quantity of Zimbabwe’s natural resources is diminishing fast, posing threats to communities and the economy which are reliant on sustainable exploitation of the resources, First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa has said.

The First Lady is the country’s patron of the environment and was speaking at a senator chiefs’ conference on tourism, wildlife and the environment. She said traditional leaders were the custodians of the environment and natural resources who should be given the opportunity to provide wisdom and leadership to national institutions on issues which affect their constituencies.

“Honourable Ministers, senator chiefs, it is important that I highlight some of the key environmental challenges that I have witnessed in my various visits around the country. A closer look at our soils, lands, water, air, plants and animals reveals disturbing and troubling signs of over use and diminishing quality and availability of these precious natural resources. There is growing evidence that both the quality and quantity of our natural resources is diminishing fast,”

she said.

Amai Mnangagwa, who has in the past personally led environmental protection and tree-planting campaigns, voiced concern on the increase in human-wildlife conflicts.

“I have noted with sadness the increase in human wildlife conflict cases which have in most circumstances been fatal. Many of our communities have borne the brunt of living with wildlife without meaningful benefits. I hope this is one of the issues to be addressed through the approved new Campfire framework as you move to implement it,”

she said.

“This new frame work will increase community benefits and participation, but I implore the ministry to ensure that communities are adequately capacitated through their traditional leaders to manage wildlife as a business,”

she said.

Poaching, the First Lady said, was on the increase and had become an ill-fate in the country.

Wildlife, she added, continued to be poisoned by cartels of sophisticated syndicates of poachers.

“Coupled with the issue of poaching is the continued deforestation across the country and our magnificent and attractive forest landscape is under threat as large tracts of land are being lost to deforestation, especially for tobacco curing. The situation has been made worse by communities which are encroaching in wildlife and other protected areas. I therefore call upon our traditional leaders to play a critical role to safeguard resources with their locals. Taikumbira kuti mitemo isimbiswe kumadzimambo kuitira kuti kuparwa kwedzimhosva dzakaita sekupisa masango nekutema miti kuite kushoma,”

she said.

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