HomeEditorial CommentTackle human-wildlife conflict

Tackle human-wildlife conflict

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THE chilling attack on a Jambezi villager by a lioness recently is yet another demonstration of the growing conflict between people and animals in areas bordering game reserves.

Khonani Shoko of Chukandakubi village was lucky to live to tell the tale after a lioness attacked him while herding livestock with his father on February 5 near Victoria Falls.

However, he is still nursing injuries at Victoria Falls District Hospital.

The problem animal was put down by the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks).

A number of villagers have not been so lucky as they lost their lives following attacks by wild animals that encroach into human settlements.

Many communities in Zimbabwe have co-existed with wildlife for centuries, but conflicts only intensified after the land reform programme that configured the land tenure system on a very large skill.

The increased human activity in wildlife areas has contributed a lot to conflict.

There are reports that marauding lions have killed more than 20 cattle and donkeys in the Jambezi area this year alone.

Hwange Rural Distinct Council vice-chairperson Matthew Muleya said they were working with Zimparks rangers to curb such attacks through the problem animal control programme.

It would also not be farfetched to link the massive poaching of elephants at the Hwange National Park last year to the issue of man and animal conflict.

Generally people want to deal with problem animals by killing them but this is a retrogressive route for a country that thrives on tourism.

Therefore, the only viable answer to the question of problem animals is ensuring that villagers learn to co-exist with nature.

There are many ways such co-existence could be fostered without loss of life and this includes increasing awareness among villagers.

The government and other organisations interested in wildlife can also sponsor educational programmes for villagers to learn how to deal with dangerous animals.

Such programmes would promote conservation and raise the welfare level of animals. In the long run it would minimise attacks on villagers by disturbed animals and the loss of livestock.

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