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Pushing at the Boundaries – Save Valley Conservancy

I met Clive Stockil in 1995 when I was in Zimbabwe for the Tourism, Conservation and Sustainable Development research project which I was leading for ODA/DFID. Clive was, and is, the driving force behind the Save Valley Conservancy in the lowveld. A former commercial hunter Clive was the driving force behind the creation of the Save Valley Conservancy  3,200 km2 it is the largest private game conservancy in the world, formed from the merger of 24 former cattle ranches.

Clive Stockil has always been a radical thinker about conservation ? see for example his advocacy of Conservation through Commerce  in 1998.

 

In recent years the conservancy has come under increasing pressure for the resettlement of subsistence farmers on the conservancy with 10,000 being resettled on a quarter of the conservancy. In addition to the loss of habitat there has a dramatic increase in poaching for the pot and of ivory.

 

Today’s Times carries a report from Save Valley which reveals how serious the impact of the political situation in Zimbabwe has been on tourism and more importantly on conservation. In the last year the Save Valley Conservancy has lost 16 of it s 120 Black rhino and it is losing the battle to maintain the population.

 

Martin Fletcher in today’s Times reports that ?Before the white farm seizures began in 2000, Mr Stockil's Senuko Lodge had an occupancy rate of more than 60 per cent. Today it is almost empty. ?We're in a very serious financial crunch,? says Mr Stockil who, in desperation, recently began catering for wealthy hunters of non-endangered species such as elephants. Without that, he says, ?we would have had to close?.

 

Clive Stockil is again thinking radically about the political imperatives of conservation

 

?As Mr Stockil points out, the actual poachers are mere pawns – he knows of one who has made just enough to buy himself a motorbike. The real money is made by the middle men who spirit the horns across Zimbabwe's borders to South African ports and airports or up to the fast-growing Chinese community in Harare. From there they are shipped to the Far East, some in diplomatic bags. A Vietnamese Embassy receptionist in Pretoria was photographed recently taking delivery of a rhino horn from a dealer.

 

Mr Stockil wants African states to establish how many horns the end-users in China, Vietnam and North Korea require, to provide that number themselves, and to use the proceeds to protect the world's last black rhinos before they vanish forever. ?You would stop poaching, raise money for conservation, increase the rhino population, do away with the illegal trade and provide a legal product that for centuries has been used by cultures that say they need it,? he argues.?

 

Read the whole article at

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article5361568.ece

He is probably right.

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