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US hails conviction of Chinese citizen in Malawi

By Antipoaching, Law & legislation
Mwayi Mkandawire, Malawi 24 | July 5, 2020

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The United States has welcomed the conviction of a Chinese national who was involved in poaching and trafficking of endangered species in Malawi.

Chinese national Lin Yun Hua was convicted in June on the charge of illegal possessions of specimen of listed and protected species, including 103 pieces of Rhino horn. He is expected to be sentenced by the Magistrate’s Court in Lilongwe on July 17.

The US Embassy in a statement posted on its Facebook Page today said Lin is one of the ringleaders of a transnational criminal wildlife trafficking syndicate, responsible for the illegal poaching and trafficking of endangered species in Malawi and elsewhere in Africa.

“The United States hopes that these arrests and subsequent convictions will help put an end to the depletion of Malawi’s precious natural resources by criminal elements.

“The United States calls on all nations, particularly destinations for Africa’s wildlife, to move beyond words, take action, and speak out against transnational criminal networks,” the embassy said in its statement

Lin was arrested by the Malawi Police Service in August last year, three months after police began hunting for him. Lin’s wife, Mrs. Qin Hua Zhang, and son-in-law, Mr. Li Hao Yaun, were convicted by Malawian courts ‪November 14, for the dealing and possession of 21kg of elephant ivory.

Interpol estimates that international illegal wildlife trade worldwide is worth over MWK 15 trillion ($20 billion USD) annually.

Malawi: Final witness testifies against Chinese in Malawi wildlife crime case

By Antipoaching
Harold Kapindu, The Nyasa Times | May 22, 2020

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The final state witness, Criminal Investigator Sub Inspector Ikraim Malata on Wednesday testified in the high profile wildlife case involving a Chinese national, Lin Yun Hua.

Magistrate Chipao Presiding Over the Case

Lin Yun Hua, who is dubbed Malawi’s most wanted suspected wildlife trafficker and notorious kingpin , appeared before the Lilongwe Magistrate Court answering charges of money laundering offense and dealing with government trophy.

During the cross and reexamination, investigator Malata emphasized on the point that the leads led to Lin Yun Hua who already pleaded guilty to the charge of Illegal possessions of specimen of listed species, 103 pieces of Rhino horn.

In his remarks, prosecutor Andy Kaonga said the State is happy, stressing that all the witnesses are very important to the case. Chief Magistrate Violet Chipao then adjourned the case to 8 June 2020 for judicial notice. Speaking to Nyasa Times after the adjournment, defense counsel Chrispin Ndalama said the defense is patiently waiting for the judicial notice.

“In criminal law, the accused is innocent until proven guilty. The state has brought their witnesses and now we are waiting for the court to make a determination on whether my client has a case to answer,” Ndalama said.

Some of the witnesses who have testified in the case includes South Africa based veterinarian, University of Pretoria Director of veterinary, genetics and laboratory, Dr Cindy Kim Harper and Liwonde National Park Field Operations Manager Lawrence Munlo.

Lin Yun Hua was arrested on 16th August 2019 in Lilongwe (Area 3) following a 3-month manhunt by Malawi Police Service. In November 2019, Lin Yun Hua pleaded guilty to the charge of Illegal possessions of specimen of listed species.

Facts were presented and court convicted him on his own plea of guilty.

A total of ten Chinese and four Malawian nationals have been arrested were arrested in 2019 in relation to the syndicate in question and are at various stages of trial.

British troops help move endangered black rhinos to new home away from poachers

By Conservation
James Hockaday, Metro | Dec 26, 2019

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Vulnerable black rhinos have been relocated away from the eyes of hunters with the assistance of British soldiers.

Troops from the 2nd Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles teamed up with conservationists, training rangers at Malawi’s Liwonde National Park to improve their patrols in a bid to crack down on the illegal wildlife trade. Only 5,500 black rhinos live in the wild today because hunters have decimated their numbers.

Their horns are removed and sold on to the Far East, where they are ground down and turned into ‘medicine’, aphrodisiacs, or jewellery. Around the end of their three-month assignment, the Gurkhas helped with one of the largest international rhino re-location to date.

Original photo as published by Metro: Only 5,500 black rhinos live in the wild as hunters decimate their numbers. (Picture: PA)

Conservation group African Parks say 17 of the 1.4 tonne animals were hauled by air and road from KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa and taken to a new home in Malawi. Major Jez England, officer commanding the British Army Counter-Poaching Team in Liwonde said the operation had been ‘hugely successful’.

He added: ‘Not only do we share skills with the rangers, improving their efficiency and ability to patrol larger areas, but it also provides a unique opportunity for our soldiers to train in a challenging environment. ‘Helping with the rhino move was a fitting end to our time in Malawi, getting up close to the animals we are here to help protect was an experience the soldiers won’t forget.’

So far, the army has helped train 200 rangers in the country and no high-value species have been poached in Liwonde since 2017.

The project was led by African Parks in conjunction with Malawi’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. It aims to boost the rhino population in the region and preserve this critically endangered species for the next generation. Since their release, African Parks is continuing to monitor the animals as they settle in to their new home.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the illegal wildlife trade is the fourth largest transnational crime behind drugs, arms and human trafficking and can have hugely destabilising consequences.

He added: ‘With this deployment, our armed forces have once again demonstrated their versatility and value by contributing to the conservation work taking place in Malawi.

‘Working with local communities, host governments and wildlife groups is key to our approach, we want to see sustainable, community-led solutions that help promote security and stability for both the people and wildlife of Africa.’

The counter-poaching ranger partnering programme is funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and delivered by the British Army.

The UK Government has committed over £36 million to tackle the illegal wildlife trade between 2014 and 2021. Part of this is to help support transboundary work to allow animals to move more safely between areas and across national borders.

British troops help relocate endangered black rhinos as part of anti-poaching mission (Malawi)

By Antipoaching, Translocation
Sky News | December 26, 2019

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Troops from the 2nd Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles have recently come back from a three-month counter-poaching deployment in Malawi, southeastern Africa.

Based in Liwonde National Park, near the border with Mozambique, they worked in conjunction with African Parks, a conservation organisation.

They trained current and new rangers in a bid to crack down on the illegal trade by improving the effectiveness of patrols.

Original photo as published by Sky News: The troops worked in conjunction with African Parks, a conservation organization.

While they were there, the soldiers helped with one of the biggest international rhino translocations so far, offloading the 1.4-tonne animals which had been transported by air and road from KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.

The mission saw 17 black rhinos moved from South Africa to Malawi, according to African Parks.

There are around 5,500 black rhinos in the wild today.

Major Jez England, officer commanding British Army Counter-Poaching Team in Liwonde, described the operation as “hugely successful”.

He added: “Not only do we share skills with the rangers, improving their efficiency and ability to patrol larger areas, but it also provides a unique opportunity for our soldiers to train in a challenging environment.

“Helping with the rhino move was a fitting end to our time in Malawi, getting up close to the animals we are here to help protect was an experience the soldiers won’t forget.”

The army has helped train 200 rangers in Malawi – and no high-value species have been poached in Liwonde since 2017.

Malawi’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife also worked on the project.

It will help boost the rhino population in the region and help preserve the critically endangered species for the next generation.

The 17 rhinos have been monitored intensely since their release, as they settle in to their new environment.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the illegal wildlife trade is the fourth largest transnational crime behind drugs, arms and human trafficking and can have hugely destabilising consequences.

He added: “With this deployment, our armed forces have once again demonstrated their versatility and value by contributing to the conservation work taking place in Malawi.

“Working with local communities, host governments and wildlife groups is key to our approach, we want to see sustainable, community-led solutions that help promote security and stability for both the people and wildlife of Africa.”

The UK government has committed more than £36m to tackle the illegal wildlife trade between 2014 and 2021, with the counter-poaching ranger partnering programme funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

African Parks’ most hopeful conservation news in 2019

By Conservation, Land conservation, Science and technology
African Parks / PR Newswire | December 18, 2019

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JOHANNESBURG: Successful conservation interventions are critical, now more than ever, to improve the trajectory of the planet’s biodiversity and the state of its ecosystems, as highlighted in the IPBES global biodiversity assessment published this year. Well managed protected areas are vital anchors of sanctuary, stability and opportunity for millions of people and countless species.

With the largest and most ecologically diverse portfolio of parks under management by any one organisation across Africa, African Parks’ goal is to realize the ecological, social and economic value of these landscapes, preserving ecological functions, delivering clean air, healthy watersheds, carbon sequestration, food security, and better health for millions of people.

Here is some of their most hopeful news from 2019:

  • Zimbabwe’s exceptional Matusadona National Park which abuts Lake Kariba became the 16th park to join African Parks’ management portfolio. Through partnership with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, they will fully restore the park as a leading wildlife sanctuary for the region.
  • One of history’s largest international black rhino translocations was concluded with the WWF Black Rhino Range Expansion Project, using source populations in South Africa to boost Malawi’s population to create a valuable range state for the critically endangered species.
  • The largest ever transport of rhinos from Europe to Africa was undertaken, releasing five Eastern black rhinos, bred successfully by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria Ex Situ Programme, into Rwanda’s Akagera National Park, helping to build a sustainable wild population of this subspecies numbering only around 1,000 in Africa.
  • Cheetahs were introduced to Majete Wildlife Reserve in Malawi to form a crucial founder population and help grow the range of the vulnerable big cat; and almost 200 buffalo were released into Zambia’s Bangweulu Wetlands to restock one of the continent’s greatest wetland landscapes.
  • 100 years of conservation was celebrated with the Barotse Royal Establishment and Zambia’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) in Liuwa Plain National Park with the official opening of the world class King Lewanika Lodge. The event was testament to their 16-year partnership to restore the ecosystem, promote livelihoods development, provide employment, education, and support to thousands of people, while seeing the park emerge as one of the world’s top travel destinations hailed by The New York Times and TIME Magazine.
  • TIME Magazine featured Chad’s Zakouma National Park on its list of World’s Greatest Places 2019, and Akagera National Park in Rwanda continued to see remarkable strides in tourism development, with Wilderness Safaris opening the gorgeous luxury tented Magashi Camp.
  • With several partners they have installed the most advanced technology available, from Vulcan’s EarthRanger, ESRI, Smart Parks, and others, to improve real-time monitoring of wildlife and to support law enforcement within the parks.

These advancements are only possible because of the partnerships with national governments who entrust African Parks with managing their natural heritage. Their shared vision of a future for people and wildlife is realised through the generous funding received from a global community of committed supporters, including anchor donors: Acacia Conservation Fund (ACF), Adessium Foundation, Arcus Foundation, Dutch Postcode Lottery, European Union, Fondation des Savanes Ouest-Africaines (FSOA), Fondation Segré, Government of Benin, Howard G. Buffett Foundation, MF Jebsen Conservation Foundation, National Geographic Society, Oppenheimer Philanthropies, People’s Postcode Lottery, Save the Elephants and Wildlife Conservation Network’s Elephant Crisis Fund, Stichting Natura Africae, The Walton Family Foundation, The Wildcat Foundation, The Wyss Foundation, WWF-the Netherlands, WWF-Belgium, UK Aid, U.S. Department of State and USAID.

Overall, these gains are only possible because of the myriad support received, from events to charitable auctions and races, recommendations to friends, travel to the parks, bequests and helping to tell the story of the urgency of the conservation work, and to generous board members in Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the U.S. and South Africa.

Source: African Parks

Related links: www.africanparks.org

 

3 testify in high profile Malawi wildlife crime case involving Chinese national

By Antipoaching
Harold Kapindu, The Nyasa Times | December 6, 2019

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The hearing of Malawi’s most wanted suspected wildlife trafficker and notorious king pin, Chinese national Lin Yun Hua’s case has started at Lilongwe Magistrates court. Appearing alongside Malawian James Mkwezalamba, Lin Yun Hua is answering charges of money laundering offense and dealing with government trophy.

Presided by Chief resident magistrate Violet Chipao, both the defense and the state cross examined and reexamined two witnesses, South Africa based veterinarian, University of Pretoria Director of veterinary, genetics and laboratory, Dr Cindy Kim Harper and Liwonde National Park Field Operations Manager Lawrence Munlo.

It was established that on 28 February, 2016, a Rhino went missing at Liwonde National Park and was later found killed with its horns cut off.  The found Rhino horn specimen were further sent to South Africa were Dr Harper conducted the DNA tests. On Thursday, witness, McPherson testified and made the defense to seek for an adjournment. The defense addressed the court that they will have to go to Zomba Magistrate Court to get the case file for the case as they claimed that some issues raised by the state witnesses are not in the witness report.

Speaking to Nyasa Times, State council Andy Kaonga said the two witnesses are very important to the case. “Bringing in the foreign witness, Dr Harper who is an expert in DNA testing would have been a challenge. We are therefore happy that she came and testified. We have eight witnesses. We are done with two and remaining with six,” Kaonga said.

In his brief remarks, Defense Counsel Chrispin Ndalama said the court would determine whether Dr Harper’s tests on samples are relevant or not. In November, Lin Yun Hua pleaded guilty to the charge of Illegal possessions of specimen of listed species, 103 pieces of Rhino horn.

Facts were presented and court convicted him on his own plea of guilty. A total of ten Chinese and four Malawian nationals have been arrested this year in relation to the syndicate in question and are at various stages of trial. Meanwhile, Chief Magistrate Chipao has adjourned the case to 21 January 2020.

Rhinos are worth more dead than alive, says wildlife vet (South Africa)

By Conservation
The Independent Online | December 7, 2019

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DURBAN: Rhinos are worth more dead than alive. This is the painful reality Ezemvelo wildlife vet Dr Dave Cooper related this week, while delivering the Nolly Zaloumis Memorial Lecture at uShaka Marine World.

And, as expected in an address by an African wildlife buff, there has to be a story of climbing a tree to escape a charging rhino.

Cooper’s story of the need for such a tree involved an orphan, one of more and more that exist because of poaching.

Cooper said that, once treated, they were reintroduced into the wild, sometimes after having become “a little used to humans”.

“The first black rhino (orphan) we released in iSimangaliso had had far too much human contact,” Cooper recalled.

“It was not scared of vehicles, so it was a great tourist animal. But when I approached it on foot, I had to find a tree.”

While the incidence of rhino calves becoming orphaned has increased, the work of relocating rhinos – to stock reserves and to offer them safety – has decreased in the quarter of a century Cooper has been in the game. Now, he’s kept busy much of the time with dehorning, treating survivors of poaching and conducting post-mortems.

All because of poaching.

“It was 100 relocations a year, sometimes,” he recalled. “This year we captured eight and couldn’t sell four of them.”

The problem, he explained, was economics. “Rhinos are worth more dead than alive,” he said, stressing that it was vital that this be reversed.

Farmers with rhino stock can spend up to R5million feeding their herds and the same amount on security.

To reverse the situation, the option of legalising trade in rhino horn “needs to be looked at seriously”, he suggested.

While anyone entering a wildlife career in Africa may have expected to climb trees to escape charging rhinos, they may not have expected metal detectors to be everyday tools of their trade. It is for Cooper, as he attends to rhinos that have been struck by bullets. “I couldn’t have believed that I would ever become an expert in using a metal detector, which is now as important as a dart gun.”

All this takes its toll on lovers of wildlife, like Cooper and his colleagues, who find that their work has a psychological impact on them. “Day in, day out, doing this kind of work, no one is unaffected, so we deliberately take turns – two weeks, two weeks. Then, when there’s a serious number of cases, we all go and help each other.”

Help for the rhinos, in recent years, has also come from other countries in Africa, a significant number of them having become translocation destinations recently, Cooper said.

Last month, 17 black rhinos were taken to Malawi.

There have also been relocations to Tanzania. Then, in Kenya, the overall rhino population was down to 200. Now it’s about 1000 and security has improved through advanced intelligence systems.

To date, 87 white rhino have been moved to Botswana, in an area where the grass is “ice cream to the rhinos”.

Sceptics feared for the safety of 28 black rhinos when they were translocated from iMfolozi to Zimbabwe in 1998. “They were proved wrong over time,” said Cooper.

There are trees there, too, should rangers looking after them need an escape route.

Original photo by Robin Moore

Skills panacea for poaching (Botswana)

By Antipoaching, Conservation
The Daily News | December 8, 2019

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An increase of poaching incidences, especially killing of rhinos, worries President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi.

Speaking on December 6 at a graduation ceremony of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) Defence Command and Staff College (DCSC), President Masisi urged graduates to utilise skills they had acquired to win the war against poaching.

“You have graduated at a time when this country is facing the challenge of poaching. Poaching has the potential to wipe out our wildlife resources thus threatening the tourism industry, one of the key engines of the growth of our economy, not to mention the ripple effect it will have on the livelihoods of the persons who live proximately to such wildlife resource,” he said.

He said the BDF graduates should pass down what they had learnt to their subordinates, thereby maintaining a sustainable, well informed, trained, disciplined and agile workforce.

“I’m informed that while appreciating the utility of the military and other security players in the country, you were also introduced to the defence and strategic studies component. This has enriched your understanding of how the defence policy and national security fit into foreign policy and diplomacy as well as democratic civil military relations,” Dr Masisi, also Commander in Chief, added.

He said a number of diplomats had been at the college giving lectures on issues of international security, diplomacy and foreign policy. He said this served to enrich the curriculum and its growth.

Dr Masisi said the input from the diplomatic community had enhanced the prestige of the college.

“The presence of students from Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe in this college demonstrates our unwavering commitment to promote both bilateral and regional cooperation. It also resonates well with my statement during the recent State-of-the-Nation Address that Botswana continues to nurture friendly relations with other countries and forge strategic partnerships with the international community for her benefit and the greater good of humanity,” he said.

He said such encounters formed part of the meaningful relations that must be cherished and grown from strength to strength.

Dr Masisi said the graduates’ qualification would go a long way in preparing them to comprehend and manage any threat that might be dictated by realities of today’s security environment which was volatile, complex and ambiguous in nature.

For his part, DCSC commandant, Brigadier Papadi Monnatlhare said the graduation of the senior command and staff course class 12 of 2019 was the culmination of a year of hard work and commitment.

He said the college had done its utmost to equip them with the tools of their trade and their supervisors and subordinates were looking forward to reap the rewards.

“It is incumbent upon yourselves to live up to expectations through embracing high levels of professionalism, providing exemplary leadership, exercising integrity and selflessness as well as providing mentorship to your subordinates,” Brigadier  Monnatlhare said.

Original photo by Gerald van der Walt

Malawi receives 17 black rhinos from South Africa

By Conservation, Translocation

Reuters | November 13, 2019

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BLANTYRE: Seventeen black rhinos have been released into Malawi’s Liwonde national park after arriving from South Africa as part of conservation efforts aimed at keeping the local population of the endangered species healthy and safe.

By moving the beasts, in one of the biggest international relocations of its kind, conservationists hope to ensure wild black rhinos remain genetically diverse to better fight off disease.

Peter Fearnhead, Chief Executive of African Parks, a private conservation trust that runs game reserves in Malawi, said the relocation also reflected local efforts to keep rhinos and other wild animals safe. Anti-poaching measures in Malawi have included deploying British troops to patrol the reserves.

Original photo as posted by Reuters: A 33 month old black rhino is seen at a game reserve near Cape Town, South Africa, January 8, 2005. (REUTERS/Mike Hutchings//File Photo)

“Extensive measures to protect these animals include aerial surveillance, daily ranger patrols, and the integration of the most advanced technology to enable live-time tracking,” Fearnhead said. “With fewer than 5,500 black rhinos remaining in the wild, translocations to well-protected areas are essential for their long-term survival.”

The first translocation of two rhinos from South Africa’s Kruger National Park took place in 1992. The new transfer was organized by wildlife departments in the two countries and WWF South Africa.

The 17 rhinos were captured in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and quarantined for six weeks at Imfolozi Game Reserve, after which they were flown from King Shaka airport in Durban to Lilongwe in Malawi.

Britain’s Prince Harry has been involved in conservation efforts at Liwonde, which lies in Eastern Southern Malawi on the banks of the Shire river.

“This is a great boost to the endangered rhino species, hunted down for its horn,” said Brightson Kumchedwa, director of parks and wildlife in Malawi’s Ministry of Natural Resources.

“For the South African government to release the 17 is a sign of confidence in Malawi’s concerted efforts to greatly improve wildlife security.”

Prince Harry’s conservation charity African Parks takes on neglected Zimbabwean national park

By Antipoaching, Conservation, Land conservation, Translocation
Victoria Ward & Peta Thornycroft, The Telegraph | November 3, 2019

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The Duke of Sussex’s African Parks has taken over the management of one of Zimbabwe’s most neglected national parks that has fallen victim to rampant poaching. It aims to reform the 1,000 square mile Matusadonha National Park’s elephant and black rhino populations and transform it into a leading safari destination.

The Duke spent almost three weeks working with African Parks in Malawi in 2016 as the organisation embarked on one of the biggest elephant translocation projects in conservation history. He returned to the Liwonde National Park Headquarters in September for an update on its progress.

Writing in this newspaper during his recent tour of southern Africa, he revealed that the experience three years earlier had taken his understanding and respect for conservation to a “whole new level”.

Original photo as published by The Telegraph: Prince Harry at the Chobe National Park, Botswana, in September. (CREDIT: DOMINIK LIPINSKI/POOL VIA AP)

In 2017, he became president of African Parks, a sign of his personal commitment to the region. Peter Fearnhead, its chief executive, was a guest at his wedding to Meghan Markle.

Matusadonha National Park, in northern Zimbabwe, is flanked by the giant Lake Kariba and has two rivers running through it.

Frances Read, from African Parks, said it was one of the country’s flagship and most valuable areas, with the potential to become a leading safari destination.

But it is fraught with challenges and in desperate need of funding and proper management, which it will undertake in partnership with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority. Poachers have all but wiped out its black rhino population whilst elephant numbers have been severely depleted.

Ms Read said the first job will be to secure its borders to allow wildlife populations to recover and rebound naturally before implementing effective management structures and law enforcement strategies.

“We will then be working with the local community so they start to see that this is for them and that this is an asset,” she said. “Matusadonha is a very special place for Zimbabwe and has a lot of potential for tourism and socio-economic development.”

The 20-year contract awarded to African Parks – its first foray into the country – is considered all the more remarkable by conservationists who had thought it highly unlikely that the government of Zimbabwe would ever allow a foreign organisation to take control of its wildlife resources.

Blondie Leatham, one of Zimbabwe’s best known conservationists and safari operators, said: “This is one of the most exciting things that has happened for wildlife in Zimbabwe for a very long time.”

The Duke recently described the continent as his “second home” and has made no secret of the special place it holds in is heart, having first travelled there in the immediate aftermath of the death of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997.

During his recent tour of southern Africa with the Duchess of Sussex and their son, Archie, he revealed their “life work will be predominantly focused on Africa, on conservation.”

Whilst in Malawi in 2016, the Duke expressed great concern for conservation parks, saying: “I do worry. I think everyone should worry. We need to look after them, because otherwise our children will not have a chance to see what we have seen. This is God’s test: If we can’t save some animals in a wilderness area, what else can’t we do?”

African Parks is a non-profit NGO working with governments and local communities. Its latest agreement with Zimbabwe, signed on Friday, takes the number of parks it manages to 16 in 10 countries covering almost 11 million hectares.