ENVIRONMENT Minister, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Wednesday denied ever imposing a ban on quail bird farming but was quick to add the embargo was only targeted at the hunting and sale of wild birds and their eggs.
Muchinguri last month announced a ban on the increasingly popular farming venture ostensibly to protect innocent citizens who were being targeted by conmen who claimed the bird and its eggs had a rich medicinal component.
The unpopular directive elicited strong resentment from among Zimbabweans who accused government of being insensitive to the plight of unemployed citizens seeking survival through innocent means.
Social media was also abuzz with jokes and memes on the bird, better known in Shona and Ndebele as chihuta/isigwaca.
Muchinguri was Wednesday taken to task by legislators in parliament who wanted her to come clean on the issue. That was after Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently denied the ban was government policy.
Led by Harare Central MP, Murisi Zvizwai, legislators wanted Muchinguri-Kashiri to explain the ban on bird farming.
In response, Muchinguri-Kashiri said she was happy her directive had generated some excitement among Zimbabweans who crafted jokes and songs about the bird.
“Let me mention that there are two types of quail birds; those that are tamed fall under Dr Made’s (Agriculture) Ministry and people can sell those,” she said.
“It is obvious those who want to import can do so and we are happy that people should go into business.
“My Ministry deals with the wild ones. There are some people who are now going into our parks and being bitten by snakes and lions because they also want to be part of the quail bird farmers.
“Some of them have been arrested by rangers while some were almost shot. I am talking about the wild quail birds. These cannot be domesticated.”
Muchinguri-Kashiri added: “You cannot keep them and give them food but they just have to fend for themselves or they will die. People were now going into the bush to hunt those birds and that is why we stopped them. We do not want the birds to be extinct. If we do get a report we will bring it forward. People should continue their business with the tamed quail birds.”
Muchinguri-Kashiri said her ministry was also forced to stop the hunting of the bird to allow experts to examine the bird for any contagious disease threats.