Parks and Wildlife Bill to empower communities

The Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority will soon be compelled to involve communities adjacent to wildlife areas, in conservation and other wildlife commercial activities, in line with Government’s devolution policy, the Parks and Wildlife Amendment Bill recently gazetted provides.

The Bill also establishes a fund to compensate victims of human and wildlife conflict.

Clause 3 of the memorandum of the Bill provides the new provisions amending the principal Act to empower communities.

“The first new section sets forth the general principles according to which this Act will be administered by the Authority.

“Of particular note is the principle that enjoins the Authority to devolve as much as possible the responsibility for wildlife conservation and management to local communities adjacent to areas of wildlife.

“The second new section clarifies and reforms the common law on the issues of ownership of wildlife.

“The new section generally restates the common law position that wild animals are ownerless (res nullii), however, specially protected animals are vested in the President and private persons may obtain ownership of wild animals in certain circumstances,” reads Clause 3.

Clause 4 amends the section on the functions of the Authority by adding new functions.

Particularly noteworthy is the promotion of community participation in consumptive and non-consumptive wildlife based commercial activities.

The Second Republic has prioritised the devolution policy to ensure increased participation of communities in their own governance and benefit from local resources.

The Bill also directs the Minister responsible for the administration of the Act to ensure fair gender and regional representation on the Authority’s board as required by the country’s Constitution, including the representation of traditional leadership.

Clause 9 of the Bill establishes the new Wildlife Professionals Council of Zimbabwe that will be responsible for certifying qualifications and discipline for wildlife professionals and be fairly representative of professional interests of the wildlife sector.

“The Council must formulate binding codes of ethics in every sector and subsector of the professional wildlife industry. The Council will be funded in the main by fees for professional certification.

“The second Part (IIC) establishes human-wildlife conflict relief fund, the object of the fund is to offer some monetary relief to victims of human wildlife conflict, that is to say innocent victims of any encounter with a wild animal resulting in the death of a victim, or his or her maiming (that is to say any permanent disablement of a bodily function) or any other physical injury to the victim,” reads part of Clause 9 of the Bill.

The fund will come as relief to communities living close to wildlife areas who have fallen victim to attacks by wildlife.

Clause 11 inserts a new section criminally penalising the hunting in and removal of animals or animal products from recreational parks and sale of animals or animal products.

Clause 15 introduces a new section in the Act formalising the existing system of allocation for quotas for hunting of animals and for other consumptive profitable and management activities.

“Every quota is scientifically determined to ensure that the animals in question are not consumed beyond a sustainable level. A civil penalty is provided for quota holders who exceed their quota,” reads part of Clause 15.

Clause 17 will introduce a new section in the Act providing for the private donation of animals outside of Zimbabwe.

Herald

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