ZWE - Legal Hub - Preconditions - Picture © Brent Stirton-Getty Images for FAO, CIFOR, CIRAD, WCS


The Parks and Wildlife Act defines wildlife as all forms of animal life, vertebrate and invertebrate, that are indigenous to Zimbabwe, and the eggs or young thereof other than fish. Fish are defined separately as including vertebrate fish, and aquatic molluscs and crustaceans, both indigenous and non-indigenous, but do not include the bilharzia snail (Biomphalaria pfeifferi and Bulinus Physopsis globusus) and the liver fluke snail (Lymnea natalensis). Fish are not covered under the wildlife tenure regime provided in legislation. Fisheries also remain outside the responsibility of the chiefs and village assembly established in terms of the Traditional Leaders Act. The Environment Management Act recognizes both wildlife and fish as natural resources. It defines natural resources as mammals, birds, fish and other animal life of Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe defines four categories of land where hunting/fishing is permitted: the safari areas and sanctuaries that fall under the management of the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority; forest areas that fall under the management of the Forestry Commission; Communal Land that falls under the management of Rural District Councils (RDCs); and alienated (private) land that is under the management of private owners. This designation is derived from the Parks and Wildlife Act, which is the key legislative framework for wildlife heritage conservation and management in Zimbabwe. It provides for the establishment and management of protected areas (known as ‘park areas’), and the conservation and management of wildlife resources and associated habitats. It further establishes the ‘appropriate authorities’ (AA) status that links wildlife management and control with the land tenure system. Hence, there are basically four categories of AA status: these categories depend on land tenure and ownership. For instance, the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority is the AA for wildlife which is within the Parks and Wildlife Estate. The Forestry Commission is the AA over wildlife within the forest areas. Private land owners are the AA over the wildlife within their land. The RDCs hold the AA status over wildlife found in Communal Lands on behalf of the community. In this regard, the RDC represents the lowest structure with the AA. A Cabinet decision was announced in September 2020 to devolve the AA to the sub-district levels, but there are no statutory instruments on this. As a result, the Community Conservancies in Zimbabwe are formed as Environment Sub-Committees and are therefore RDC structures and not community structures.

As far as fishing waters are concerned, the AA may be any person appointed by the Minister in terms of section 83 of the Parks and Wildlife Act or the AA for the land riparian to such waters. The law also does not recognize or define indigenous people in Zimbabwe, and there is no specific provision on the involvement of indigenous peoples in the lawful use of wildlife. The Access to Genetic Resources and Indigenous Genetic Resource-based Knowledge Regulations do not provide clear implementation guidelines on the use of wildlife. Although the Regulations make it explicit that the indigenous community has customary law rights over indigenous genetic resources, the exercise of such rights is neither outlined nor recognised in the Parks and Wildlife Act. Further, the Regulations do not provide clear implementation of the guidelines on consultation. Also, although according to the Regulations, the indigenous community has customary law rights over indigenous genetic resources, the process towards their involvement is not clearly outlined in the main legal instrument. As a result, community involvement is at the discretion of AAs, as well as any possible sharing of economic benefits. In the context of the CAMPFIRE Programme, some practical guidelines have been issued to support the development of community-based wildlife management. However, the CAMPFIRE Revenue Guidelines have not been gazetted into a law, hence are not legally binding.