October 20, 2005

Zimbabwe to remove villagers from game park

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe is to remove 700 families who
settled illegally near Gonarezhou National Park, the country's
second largest game reserve, to make way for a planned
transfrontier regional park.

The official Herald newspaper said on Thursday the families
were among 5,000 people "irregularly settled" on farms
throughout southern Masvingo province, including hundreds of
families living on wildlife conservancies.

The families moved into the area about five years ago at
the height of illegal land invasions during the government's
forcible redistribution of white-owned farms to blacks.

"About 700 families illegally settled on a swathe of land
adjacent to the Gonarezhou National Park ... will soon be
relocated ... to pave way for the planned Great Limpopo
Transfrontier Park," the Herald said.

It did not say where or when they would be moved, and
government and wildlife officials were not immediately
reachable for comment.

Gonarezhou National Park in southeastern Zimbabwe is
expected to soon merge with Limpopo National Park in Mozambique
and South Africa's Kruger National Park to form a large
transfrontier park in a bid to attract more foreign tourists.

Gonarezhou, perched on Zimbabwe's southeast border with
Mozambique, is home to elephants, lions, giraffes, zebras,
buffaloes and the Nyala antelope.