Harare — Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species secretary-general Mr Willem Wijnstekers, who arrived in the country on Monday, will today start meeting senior Government officials to discuss ways of combating poaching in Zimbabwe.
Parks and Wildlife Management Authority public relations manager Caroline Washaya-Moyo yesterday said the visit was not a witch-hunt but was meant to appraise the body on Zimbabwe’s anti-poaching initiatives.
“He will tomorrow (today) meet the ministers of Environment and Natural Resources, Home Affairs, Finance, Defence and Prime Minister Mr Morgan Tsvangirai to discuss the problem of poaching in Zimbabwe,” she said.
Mr Wijnstekers, who is accompanied by the convention’s chief enforcement officer Mr John Sellar, will be in Zimbabwe until Friday.
Discussions will centre on poaching and challenges faced in implementing intervention measures.
In an interview on his arrival, Mr Wijnstekers said he would explore ways that Cites could assist Zimbabwe.
He said: “I am in Zimbabwe to look at possibilities the Convention can work together with the country in controlling poaching.
“The visit will also help us get firsthand information on the challenges Zimbabwe is encountering in fighting poaching. We will then try to evaluate anti-poaching programmes in Zimbabwe with the systems of the Cites community.”
Parks director for conservation Mr Vitalis Chadenga said the visit gave Zimbabwe a chance to appraise Cites on the true state of rhino poaching in the country.
“Although Zimbabwe has witnessed a surge in cases of poaching over the months, this is a regional problem that is not peculiar to Zimbabwe.
“The visit will also afford Mr Wijnstekers an opportunity to hear from authorities what form of assistance Zimbabwe requires in its anti-poaching drive,” he said.
Mr Chadenga dismissed allegations that politicians were involved in poaching. The Cites boss will issue a statement later this week before leaving for South Africa.
Cites is an international agreement between governments that aims at ensuring trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
It works through subjecting international trade of selected species to certain controls.