German group to invest in Zim park

2011-09-13 15:22

Special Report

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Zimbabwean state media says Chinese President Xi Jinping deserves a "hero’s welcome" when he jets into the country on a state visit, but the main opposition dismisses the visit as a mere public relations exercise.

Harare - A German conservation group is investing $13m into a major Zimbabwean wildlife park, which is battling poaching and land invaders, reports said on Tuesday.

The Frankfurt Zoological Society handed over equipment including a plane, 4x4 vehicles, radios, trucks, tractors and firefighting equipment, for use in Gona re Zhou National Park, said the official Herald newspaper.

"We have invested a lot into the project and we have so far spent about $3m and we will be spending a million dollars every year for the next 10 years," said Hugo van der Westhuizen, project leader of the FZS.

"We want to make an impact in capacitating national parks to deal with poaching and several other problems," he said.

Gona re Zhou, which means "place of the elephants" in the local Shona language, forms part of a giant trans-frontier conservation area together with parks in neighbouring South Africa and Mozambique.

The Zimbabwe side has been badly hit by poaching as well as land invaders on the back of President Robert Mugabe's controversial policy of land seizures. Poachers killed seven elephants in the park in June.

The government has so far been unable to evict 1 000 families from the local Chitsa clan who invaded the park in 2003. The families, together with their cattle, have posed a threat to the wildlife in the area.

Read more on:    robert mugabe  |  zimbabwe  |  environment  |  southern africa  |  conservation

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