Fines being charged for illegal forestry and wildlife crimes are low and they have created gaps in deterring would be criminals, Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Mangaliso Ndlovu has said.
Minister Ndlovu said this while giving his presentation at the ongoing 22nd Session of the African Forestry and Wildlife Commission and Sixth African Forestry and Wildlife (AFWC) week that ends today at Skukuza Camp in Mpumalanga, South Africa.
The conference is running under the theme, ‘Forests and Wildlife; Africa’s diversity for shared prosperity and security’.
The purpose of the AFWC is to advise on the formulation of forest and wildlife management policy and to review and coordinate its implementation at regional level.
It also focuses on exchange of information and advise on suitable practices and action in regard to technical problems and to make appropriate recommendations.
“Current fine levels are relatively low and not deterrent to would-be criminals. Police fine was recently raised from ZW$30 to ZWL$200 which is equivalent to just about US$11,” said Minister Ndlovu.
“There is need to impose deterrent fines both at police and judiciary levels to deter wildlife and forestry crimes.”
As a way of reducing forestry and wildlife crime in Zimbabwe, Minister Ndlovu proposed priority actions to be considered.
“There is need to legalise trade of both horn and ivory and to equip airport and border entry points with Hi-tech equipment to burst illegal trade as well as improve on satellite monitoring of the resources to include use of drones,” he said.
On the regional front, the Minister recommend sharing of legislative export requirements with neighboring/transit countries as well as ccollaborate on controlling related exports in transit.
Increase of monitoring and surveillance, Minister Ndlovu said, is of uttermost importance adding there is need to establish a traceable chain of custody system.
Establishment of stamp hammer registration system for wood processors & traders, he added, is also the way to go in dealing with forestry crimes.