Tipping the Scale of Justice

Dear Readers,

rhino-scale.jpg

At last there is something positive to report from Zimbabwe.  This has to be the most encouraging, exciting news of 2010 so far and the year is only beginning……..

Those of you who have followed our blogs, you will be aware that we are working hand in hand with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority with regards to increasing the poaching fines here in Zimbabwe, which up until recently have been totally unrealistic.

To recap for our new readers:

The fines for poaching wild animals, from the smallest to the largest and most endangered, have not been keeping up with inflation and the economic tailspin that our country is in. As a result, poachers both seasoned and novice, have had a free-for-all with killing animals illegally, as the fines were so pathetic that they were literally pocket change. Coupled with an almost 90% unemployment rate and soaring costs of living, the wildlife has become another source of illegal commodity trading with no concern to life!   From rhino horn, various animal hides, ivory and not forgetting the meat, are all being traded.

After much dialogue with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Authorities, our persistence and insistence paid off.  Firstly the fines had to be quoted in a strong currency, preferable the US$. However, the wheels of legislation turn rather slowly when it came to this and by the time the fines had been converted to a stable currency, they were again of a negligible amount and therefore did not act as a deterrent.

So once again, after it was back to Parks to convince the powers at B that we needed to increase the fines. Three months later we managed to implement the new fines which stand today. A lot of these values were based on live animal hunting values; however in the case of endangered and specially protected animals we increased the severity of the fine.

Below is an example of the fines and their realistic values before the adjustments:

2008 2009 2010
Fine for poaching a Black Rhino : ZWD 4’000’000.00(4 Million Zimbabwe Dollars) Early 2009 before the currency change, the fine for poaching a black rhino was commuted to ZWD 3 Billion. The fine for poaching a black rhino remains at USD 120’000.00
For comparison, the cost of a loaf of bread during mid-2008 :1 loaf bread = $ 83 million ZWD

1 litre milk = $ 66 million ZWD

For comparison, the cost of 1 kg of bananas was ZWD 660 Million, which means the fine was worth 4,5kg of bananas. This value is now a realistic deterrent, however we now have pressurised the legal system to adhere to the new policy of “No Bail” for offenders who poach endangered animals.
We submitted a recommendation that the fine for poaching a black rhino be increased to $ 7’200 Trillion, equivalent to USD 60’000.00 at that time. By February 2009, the United States Dollar was in circulation legally and so the fines were converted to this currency. On the basis of trophy hunting values, the fines were again re-assessed and the fine for poaching a black rhino was pegged at USD 120’000.00. However, at this point, poachers were still allowed out on bail, so many who were caught were let out on bail and absconded. January 2010 – the first proper conviction and sentence based on the new legislation!

There is nothing more satisfying than to see diligence paying off – and this is such a case with the sentencing of the rhino poacher.

See this link for the full story:

http://ecoworldly.com/2010/01/15/zimbabwe-rhino-poacher-sentenced-to-17-years-turning-point-at-last/calf-poached-num1-m/

On behalf of the Tikki Hywood Trust, we would like to thank and heartily congratulate all members of staff, from the Police department, Department of National Parks and Wildlife Authorities,  as well all the private individuals who were involved in the capture and sentencing of this offender. We salute magistrate, Mr. Walter Chikwanha presiding in this case, for being the first person to implement these new regulations effectively.  Let’s hope that this is the first major step in restoring some law and order to the courts of Zimbabwe.

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One Comment

  1. Rebecca, Australia
    Posted January 21, 2010 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    Excellent!
    I read that article about at ecoworldly when it happened, was waiting for you to mention the incident.

    Now lets just hope these fines are actually enforced all the time!

    Great news.

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