News / Africa

Zimbabwean Conservationist Seeks to Protect Black Rhinos

Goldman Environmental Foundation recognizes efforts of Raoul du Toit

Raoul Du Toit
Raoul Du Toit

Multimedia

Audio

Zimbabwe has one of the largest populations of black rhinos in the world.But conservationists say their numbers are declining, mostly because of man-made problems, including poaching and human encroachment, as people look for new land to farm. Every year hundreds of rhinos are killed for their horns, which are sold for medicinal purposes in markets as far away as Asia.

The Goldman Environmental Prize recently went to Raoul du Toit, coordinator of the African Rhino Program at the Florida-based International Rhino Foundation and one of a small number of conservationists working to preserve the animals. The Goldman Environmental Prize is awarded to those working at the grassroots level to protect and enhance the environment.

Rhinos are victims to poachers who are more active because of the decline in law enforcement in the conservation areas, said du Toit. He attributes the situation in Zimbabwe to a lack of resources and political and economic turmoil.

Animal-human competition

Black rhinos are also threatened by competition from the relocation of people into conservation areas in search of land for growing food crops. “There has been a kind of haphazard and disorganized settlement going on,” he explained, “where there is potential for major livestock problems with disease transmission from wildlife to livestock….”

Human settlements are driven by economics and by politics. Du Toit said the Zimbabwean government’s fast track land resettlement program has led to an expansion of subsistence farming in the rhinos’ wild habitat.

He said the program “was not adopted in a way that incorporates wildlife land reform adequately.”

Du Toit dismissed the claim by some that a decline in wildlife is natural as animals compete with humans for land and that the animals will adapt and survive.

“A lot of wildlife has been lost in Zimbabwe in areas that are settled,” he said, pointing to the reduction of “big animals like elephants and rhinos.”

“Big game cannot live around farms and gardens, because they will ultimately overrun it” and be killed by the community, which can also sell their horns.

The way forward

Du Toit mentioned some of the practical efforts. Rhinos have been moved to areas in southern Zimbabwe where cattle ranches have been converted into wildlife conservancies that protect and breed animals.

Help has also come from the private sector, which du Toit said is seeking government partnerships and engagement with local communities. The ultimate goal, he said, is to sensitize people about the need to preserve the rhino population.

Economic incentives can provide income and local employment, like tourist lodges owned by the community. Du Toit said he is far from advocating that every square kilometer in Zimbabwe be given to wildlife. “There should be crop production…livestock production…mining…but what we want,” he said, is a better “approach towards fitting together these uses within the landscape.”

What’s needed, he said, is a greater efficiency in resource use and more technical support, combined with what he called more rational government policies.

You May Like

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

China to Invest $20 billion In India Amid Border Dispute

Border spat between armies of two countries in Himalayas underlines mutual tensions despite growing commercial ties highlighted by Xi Jinping's high profile visit More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid