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Animals 'threatened by land reform'

Tens of thousands of wild animals face annihilation under a wave of land takeovers in south eastern Zimbabwe by politicians of President Robert Mugabe's party, a consortium of wildlife ranchers has warned.

The Save Valley Conservancy said thousands of people's livelihoods also are threatened in the 1,000 square mile nature preserve and surrounding districts after hunting permits and land leases were granted to 25 leaders of the ZANU-PF party under a black empowerment program.

In Sunday newspaper advertisements, the consortium said "greedy individuals" - including a provincial governor and a Cabinet minister - wrongly claimed it was white dominated.

The conservancy said Mr Mugabe had used colour as "a racial tool" to collapse world-renowned conservation efforts for short-term gain.

"When humans behave like animals, we destroy not only each other but generations to come," the group said.

The advertisements, the most strongly worded statements in the dispute so far, said politicians "want to destroy agreements and policies that have made Save the world leader in conservation management".

Save, pronounced Sa-veh in the local Ndebele language, is a habitat for elephant, zebra, giraffe, as well as the nation's second largest surviving population of endangered black rhinoceros.

The area also supports an array of African antelope and most species of birds and small animals.

"We as humans can help stop using colour as a racial tool to destroy the very people who are working for our common good," said the advertisements, under the heading: Animals don't see in colour.

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