Published On: Wed, Jan 4th, 2017

International hunters shun Save Valley Conservancy

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By a Correspondent

CHIREDZI-  International hunters continue to shun the Save Valley Conservancy in southern Zimbabwe due to political bickering
between government and property owners, amid reports that a staggering USD 4,3 million is required to repair the sanctuary’s damaged fences.

During the golden days the conservancy had become one of the country’s  best tourist attraction racking in more than USD 100 million annually.

The conservancy is owned mainly by the whites and the government has indicated its willingness to take over the property.

Former Conservancy chairman and property owner Clive  Stockhill revealed that business has not been rosy over the years because of  political  and economic problems affecting the sanctuary.

He said international hunters continue to shun Save Valley adding that several international hunters had cancelled their hunting trips to the area after realising the problems affecting the whole area.

“We did not have any business for the past 5 years,” said
Stockhill.

“The potential is there once all the current hurdles we are facing are cleared,” he said.

Stockhill said  a stretch of 720 kilometres need to be fenced with a high perimeter electric fence to ensure that wild animals do not stray into communities .

“We used to have double fencing but that has since be dropped because the department of veterinary services now wants us to use a single fence which is high and electrified,” said Stockhill.

“We need about USD 12 000 to fence just a kilometre and therefore all in all we need about USD 4, 3 million,” said Stockhill.

The former chairman said property owners in the area were able to raise that amount if normalcy have been returned into the area.

“We bought the initial number of animals in the conservancy using money which we had borrowed from the International Finance Corporation and we managed to repay the money  over the years and we are credit worth to them,” said  Stockhill.

The fences were damaged during the height of farm invasions when hordes of people mainly Zanu PF supporters invaded the sanctuary ostensibly under the guise of repossessing their land.

There are still some people who remain camped in the sanctuary in Masapasi ranch. The occupiers are mostly from Chipinge district in Manicaland.

Stockhill said that he would want to see communities around the area benefitting from the project but government has over the years been suspicious about their intended move to help communities.

“We established the Save Valley Community Trust long back but government just saw it as a smokescreen and refused to accept the
project,” said Stockhill.

“We know communities around this area are sometimes attacked by wild animals while others have lost crops on several occasions to the wild animals hence we are saying they should also benefit from this
project, “said Stockhill.

The Sanctuary has a variety of wild animals in addition to different  bird species.

An attempt by Zanu PF bigwigs  to grab the property failed after president Robert Mugabe revoked the take over arguing that the property was protected by Bilateral Agreements.

Several high government officials including army generals were once awarded hunting licences which were later cancelled after it emerged that the  licences were fraudulently granted.