As a born & bred bush baby (Mazowe) I’d like to point out my experience with veld fires & haphazard chopping of trees. Growing up, Zimbabwe Republic Police had a law out in the farms against chopping trees without a permit. Back then they’d whisk you away to court for a fine or quick gig at one of the prisons. Veld fires weren’t part of our lives as traditional ways to catch the yummy mice were used. Hunger really isn’t the entire story. The farm next door had a mini game sanctuary which among many discrepancies of land reform wasn’t protected.
I remember in 2003 the artisanal miners who lived there chased a young Zebra into our yard on our farm. Seeing the insanely large group of people chasing the poor Zebra with panga’s etc, my father rushed to grab his rifle to stop them. He called National Parks to rescue the Zebra which they did. Problem: every time without fail…..I can stand up a hundred times & attest to this…..these so called “hungry” people refuse to work on the farms but prefer the lure of quick money & easy food. They do not respect the culture us…bush babies…grew up with, which is, if you preserve the bush, the land….it will in turn take care of you…aka the magical ecosystem.
We unfortunately don’t have Environmental Management Agency nor Zimbabwe Republic Police on our side today & can only reminisce on the past when black people….(I too am one)……respected nature & culture because they’re interlinked. If we can not educate our children & society, we can only demand (don’t know how) that those with the absolute authority do their work.
My heart breaks as we await the seasonal veld fires of Mazowe & my childhood memories of foraging wild fruits, mazhanje, etc remains a bitter memory as the fires will do what they do, destroy every fruit that the bush would have given us to eat & gaze at black mountains of smoke.
NB: The views, thoughts and opinions expressed in the text belongs solely to the author and not those of Environmental Buddies Zimbabwe Trust.