|Gwayi ICA records increase in international tourist arrivals|
|Monday, 09 July 2012 15:23|
Business ReporterGWAYI Intensive Conservation Area (ICA) hunting safari farmers are recording an increase in international tourist arrivals due to the high quality of trophies that the safari has, an official said.
Gwayi ICA chairman Mr Mark Russell said hunting in the area was generating much interest because of the quality trophies of elephants, buffalos, leopard and general planes game and there has been a significant increase of tourists in the last 2-3 years though they were worried about the coal mining activities that are set to take place in the conservancy.
“What worries us is why coal mining would want to be done in a conservation area. Gwayi ICA is no different from Hwange National Park as we are an off loading pool for Hwange and in future it will be difficult to bring back the displaced animals after the mining activities have been exhausted,” said Mr Russell.
Mr Russell, speaking on the exploration activities of China-Africa and the Environment Impact Assessment said it was being done for the third time and is currently at the review stage.
China-Africa is one of the 20 companies that were awarded a Special Grant to explore and extract for coal and coal-bed methane in the Matabeleland North province’s Hwange and Gwaai areas.
The company was given a Special Grant to explore for coal and coal-bed methane over a stretch of 100 000 hectares between Gwaai and Jotsholo areas.
“We are happy with the fact that EMA has consulted us in that assessment and we want it to be known that it is not feasible for exploration to co-exist with conservancy of wildlife. It is difficult to imagine a coal mine in the middle of a conservation area that has wildlife and vegetation,” he said.
Mr Russell said the farmers were not against mining but they wanted it to be known that there are dangers involved as animals will be disturbed by the human activity.
He said it was their understanding that when there is a policy conflict between ministries, the EMA act supersedes all.
“We do not believe that the mining Act supersedes all laws but it is our understanding that EMA Act section 3 sub section 2 is there especially for such conflicts,” he said.
Environment and Natural Resources Management Minister Francis Nhema said it was an issue of both ministries working together and coming up with ways of how the country’s natural resources can be utilised.
“It is not a matter of which law is more powerful but we are a wildlife country and all stakeholders must be involved and there must be a balance between the two ministries. We have to come up with ways to rehabilitate those areas that the Ministry of Mines would have taken,” said Min Nhema.