October 5, 2005

Zimbabwe moves rhinos from poachers’ zone: report

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's wildlife authority has moved
more than 200 endangered black rhinos from a farm near its
western border with Botswana to prevent poaching, a local daily
reported on Wednesday.

Zimbabwe is home to some of Africa's largest game reserves,
but local conservationists say many species are at risk from
rampant poaching by people struggling with hunger and rising
poverty. Cross-border trophy hunters are also taking a toll.

The official Herald newspaper said Zimbabwe's Parks and
Wildlife Management Authority had translocated over 200 black
rhinos from a game farm in southwestern Matabeleland province
to some protected conservancies in the area.

It said the animals would eventually be moved to the larger
Gonarezhou National Park in the country's southeast.

The decision to move the rhinos from the border areas came
after the arrest of a poacher in Botswana who was selling a
rhino horn from an animal killed in Zimbabwe and the discovery
of two injured rhinos entangled in snare wires, it said.

Zimbabwe has an estimated 800 black rhinos left after
poachers killed more than 1,500 in the 1980s.

Rampant poaching drove black rhino numbers across Africa
down to about 2,400 in the mid-1990s from an estimated 65,000
just two decades before. Poachers typically hack off the horns
and leave the carcasses.

The animals have been on the rebound since and now number
close to 3,600 but are still regarded as endangered.

National parks officials were not immediately available
comment on the report.

But the permanent secretary for the Ministry of Environment
and Tourism, Margaret Sangarwe, said the government had issued
a directive for the endangered animals to be moved fast.

"There is urgent need to place them in areas where they can
easily be monitored and are secured," she said.