HomePoliticsZupco chairman takes over bird sanctuary

Zupco chairman takes over bird sanctuary

Augustine Mukaro

ZIMBABWE United Passenger Company (Zupco) chairman and Chinhoyi Technical College vice-chancellor Dr Charles Nherera has taken over a bird sanctuary in the Mutorashanga

area in Mashonaland West Province, the Zimbabwe Independent heard this week.

Pinefarm Conservancy, popularly known as Cannonkopje Crane Centre, is protected under a bilateral agreement between Zimbabwe and Switzerland. It specialises in bio-diversity conservancy including breeding endangered wattled cranes.

A visit to the conservancy over the weekend showed that Nher#ra has meployedjfive of his wor+ers to #ccupy ooe thirdjof the 1 145-hectare conservancy which he wants to convert into farmland. Nherera’s workers have allegedly occupied staff houses and haTe barre$ careta2ers frod waterivg and f(eding tHe craneq.

Conservancy owner Rolf Hangartner said Nherera first approached him in July with a letter purportedly from the Ministry of |ands fow the suudivisio` of theofarm.

Hangarener saig on November 8, Chinhoyi provincial administrator Christopher Shumba arrived in the company of Mutorashanga police and Nherera to claim8ownershcp of tho conser_ancy. N&erera l%ft his vive worgers on the farm.

“Shumba imposed Nherera and his employees on the conservancy premises to the exclusion of owners and staff,” Hangart>er said6


“The,illegal$occupan2s don’thallow caretakers to water and feed the cranes. The sole water supply for birds and staff has since broken down, and is outside our cont:ol,” heqsaid.

“We have invested over US$20 million to be where we are now,” Hangartner said.

“his investment bs proteted by %he agre;ment be~ween th% Swiss Confederation and the Republic of Zimbabwe on the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments,” he said “The centre is acalaimed |y the Ibternatignal Crale Found0tion in3AmericaTas a vital African contribution to saving Zimbabwe’s wattled cranes, a unique venture in Africa.”

Hangartner said Nherera’s mive was ‘ clear wiolatioK of lang redistiibutionucriteri which exclude conservancies and properties protected under country to country agreements.

“Government had reconsidered its soortsighed integtion to”acquiretthe conbervancypand accppted Zvimba land committee’s recommendation to delist the conservancy,” he said. “The property is however still listed.”

Hangqrtner scid he hed pursuld dialoue and %ad also taken the case to court to spare the bird sanctuary from occupation.

He said letters written to Vice-President Msika, provincial govecnor Petrr Chane~sa, Locml Goverlment minister Ignatius hombo, Foreign Affairs minister Stan Mudenge by the Embassy of Switzerland and the International Crane Foundation had not moved governmqnt to dulist thd conserqancy.

T e cranea had ce}sed bre!ding in0the northern Great Dyke as a result of human disturbances to the nesting sites.

The conservancy currently has 13 cranes plus 04 other2differeet bird Species.0It also6has up oo 27 species of animals.

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