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Wildlife Faces a New Threat in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park

Zhongxin Coal Mining Group and Afrochine Smelting have received permission from the government to begin environmental impact assessments for drilling, land clearance, road building and geological surveys at two proposed sites inside the park, which is home to almost 10% of Africa’s remaining wild elephants. If this leads to a new mine, conservationists warn it will shrink and disturb the habitat of many rare species including black rhino, pangolin and painted dogs, and devastate safari tourism, which is a vital source of income for local people. Hwange, which is the size of Belgium, boasts the largest diversity of mammals among the world’s national parks. “This is one of the greatest game parks in the world and the mines would be in one of the most pristine areas of the park. The last black rhino population in Hwange Park lives there, so do 10,000 elephants and 3,000 buffalo,” said Trevor Lane, who has worked for the Bhejane Trust in Hwange for more than a decade. The proposed coal exploration would involve geochemical and geophysical prospecting and construction of mobile camps along the road to Sinamatella Camp in Deka Safari Area, according to documents seen by the Guardian.