Saturday, July 3, 2004

Poaching is wiping out Zimbabwe's wildlife

JOHANNESBURG — Rare species like the black rhino are being wiped out in Zimbabwe because of rampant poaching and human settlement on private game reserves seized by the state, a conservation group said on Thursday.

"At the moment the situation really stinks," said Johnny Rodrigues, the head of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, a wildlife advocacy group. "The reports we're getting from the guys on the ground are that all the wildlife stocks have been completely wiped out in the private conservancies. There's nothing left," he said from his Zimbabwe home.

Rodrigues said private reserves, once one of the backbones of Zimbabwe's thriving wildlife and tourism industries, were being decimated by President Robert Mugabe's seizure of white-owned land for distribution to blacks.

The black rhino population has halved in four years, and the African wild dog is in danger of extinction in Zimbabwe, he said. Elephant numbers have also dropped....

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