Council, safari operators clash! Zimbabwe
This is a news article that I just ran into in Zimbabwe.
Just thought it might be of interest to those booking hunts in the next year in Zim.
Council, safari operators clash
By Emilia Zindi recently in Nyaminyami, Kariba
Sunday, 24 July 2011
NYAMINYAMI Rural District Council in Kariba has invited an independent evaluator to assist in the valuation of lease agreements it entered into with three safari operators.
This comes amid revelations that the leases expired three years ago before the operators were awarded a rollover of four years under unclear circumstances.
The operators are also being accused of under-declaring revenue to council despite making huge profits.
Operators are expected to pay 41 percent of their full quota to the local authority, 55 percent to the community and 4 percent to the Association of Rural District Councils.
Information gathered last week indicates the operators, whose nine-year lease expired three years ago, were awarded a rollover to operate for another four years without going to tender as required.
Under normal circumstances, council was supposed to have gone to tender upon expiry of the leases.
However, it is alleged procedure was not followed after the operators allegedly successfully negotiated to continue operating up to 2014.
Efforts to get comment from the operators were fruitless as they were said to be out of the country.
Council chief executive officer Mr Daniel Mackenzie said negotiations for the rollover were done before he joined the council in 2006.
As a result, he said, it was difficult for him to reverse the agreements. The operators are also threatening to sue the council if the leases are cancelled before 2013, he said.
This was done before I joined the council. We have submitted our concerns to the Association of Rural District Councils over the contents of the lease agreements, which seem to favour the safari operators.
This is why we have invited an independent evaluator to come and evaluate the agreements and see whether we are getting maximum benefits.
He said the local authority was selling wildlife to the operators for a song after which the operators sell the same at inflated prices overseas.
At present, council is selling an elephant for US$9 200, a buffalo for US $2 200, a leopard for US$1 200 while a zebra and impala fetch US$500 each.
Mr Mackenzie indicated that indigenous Zimbabweans were working as fronts for foreign safari operators.
The same white guys go overseas to sell these animals and we do not know for how much they are selling them he said.
Mr Mackenzie added that the pricing of wildlife was a major problem as some of the safari operators in the area have been hunting for more than 25 years now.
The three operators are in Omay Area 1, Omay Area 2 and Gachegache.
He said the operators initially hunted between 150 and 200 buffaloes per year, but the figure went down to 50 owing to poaching. The number of elephants also declined with operators hunting as little as seven of the giant mammals per year.
It is understood the operators have not been paying the stipulated fees, citing the lack of quality hunting trophies.
The council chief executive said: we are looking at retaining these concessions or auctioning our animals so that we do away with the middleman.
Council considers wildlife its main source of revenue. It is, therefore, important that safari operators pay their dues.?
Source: The Sunday Mail