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Zimbabwe: Poaching Paradise

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Under the brutally corrupt governent of Robert Mugabe the once verdant African Nation of Zimbabwe has little left to recommend it, besides the spectacular Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River. Stephanie Hanes has filed a report from there for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting that highlights the terrible choices poor countries face. [Birds chirping and running water] Poaching Paradise. Reported by Stephanie Hanes. Lake Victoria, Tanzania. [Off camera speaker] On Vic Falls,the whole town is there because of tourism and Zimbabwe boasts one of the best infrastructures with regard to national parks and the wildlife that we have within our country. Beautiful, pristine wilderness areas and Zimbabwe has a beautiful variety of things to offer so it's very vital to us to protect our wildlife. Without wildlife, we wouldn't have visitors and of course then we wouldn't have jobs. This whole map here is a map of the Zambezi National Park. Charles Brightman. Victoria Falls Anti Poaching Unit. Basically, we've been given permission to operate and look after an area of about fifty square kilometers surrounding the town of Victoria Falls. You can see the falls themselves, there. Gavin Best. Manager, Elephant Camp. Some areas are worse than others. Where you have a high population of people living people are suffering, people find it difficult to get food. A small subsistence poacher soon turns into a commercial poacher where he can swap dried meat for various other essentials that he needs so one thing leads to the other. We are trying to stop these poaching activities. Mupanduki "George" Tarwireyi. Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit. You are seeing snares. People are killing buffalos, elans animals we expect tourists to come and see but we are having such a problem I'm crying for the whole of this region to fight against the poachers. In the last 7 years of us being in operation we've now removed just over seventeen thousand snares. We're following the vultures. The patrols follow the vultures in. That was mid-morning. It's now about three o'clock. They discovered a dead buffalo and it looks like it's been been killed under suspicious circumstances so we're going in now to have a look. [Grass crunching under footsteps] [Voices in background] [Bugs buzzing around] [Speaker off camera] It looks like the shooter was aiming for the heart but he shot low and might have got the bottom of the lungs here and that's why the buffalo has been able to run so far and then died later from its wounds. What a waste. It's a nice, big bull there. Joanne Lamb. Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force. Due to economic reasons, high inflation, and lack of tourism the infrastructure within national parks has slowly fallen away. Hwange National Park Wankie (Hwange) was a beautiful park, one of the finest in Africa definitely the finest in Zimbabwe. We had a lovely infrastructre. Tourism was of major economic boost or was a major economic boost and all this has gone to hell in a hand cart. [Speaker off camera] When we had the water crisis there was no water in this creek. This was a hot spring-type area. It was dry, this elephant died of thirst. This is the remains of the actual skeleton and the skull. He was about a five-year-old. In this whole Northern region there were about two-hundred of them that died. Johnny Rodrigues. Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force. The animals are going to take the punch because people have to feed their families. So, you've got a choice in life. There's no prospect of finding a job. Your family has to survive so you are going to go out and take from the park. [Speaker off camera] It is vital that we conserve these natural resources. Not only for our own heritage but for tourism too. [Ethnic African music] With Fareed Zakaria The Grand Tour Tourism in the largest business sector in the world economy Tourism employs 200 million people and generates $5.49 trillion in economic activity Ecotourism is growing globally 3 times faster than "mass" tourism Source: The International Ecotourism Society [African music continues] Videographer: Jeffrey Barbee Reporter: Stephanie Hanes Produced by: The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and Azimuth Media

Video Details

Duration: 4 minutes and 54 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting
Director: Jeffrey Barbee
Views: 234
Posted by: pulitzercenter on Apr 25, 2008

As featured on Foreign Exchange. In Zimbabwe, growing political and economic instability has put unprecedented pressure on the country's environment. Deforestation, poaching and unsustainable resource exploitation are destroying what was once among the best-managed park systems in Africa. As a result, people who depend on the country's natural resources - either for day- to-day living or as part of the tourism industry - are suffering.

Reporter Stephanie Hanes and photographer Jeffrey Barbee traveled to Zimbabwe to document the unraveling of the country’s conservation network. They focused on Victoria Falls and Hwange National Park – two areas that were once prime conservation and tourism spots but are now severely threatened. For more information, visit

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