‘Land occupiers fuel human-wildlife conflict’

Source: ‘Land occupiers fuel human-wildlife conflict’ – The Southern Eye

FAILURE by the government to effectively manage wildlife projects is fuelling human-wildlife conflict, a traditional leader from Binga in Matabeleland North province has said.

Chief Siansale said the national parks established by the government had resulted in the free movement of wildlife that is invading communities causing damages to infrastructure, killing people and domestic animals.


He was speaking during the Indaba on Human Wildlife Conflict Relief Fund (HWCRF) conducted by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair’s Agricultural Pavilion last week.

Chief Siansale said human-wildlife conflict was taking a toll on rural communities, adding that the biggest challenge was failure to have a sense of ownership and responsibility by authorities.

Government is introducing the HWCRF to cater for wildlife management and redress of human-wildlife conflicts in the affected areas.

At least 300 people have been killed by wild animals since 2019, according to ZimParks.

Chief Siansale, however, revealed that villagers were confused over the responsible authorities looking after the wild animals.

“You will realise when we talk in meetings like here, we say animals are for us all, which I believe in, but when we get down to the communities and ask who owns the animals, they feel someone somewhere owns them.

“Why? Because if you snare a cow, the owner will complain, but if you snare an impala, who complains? So that person who complains is viewed to be the owner.

“We need to work on that mindset and build a sense of ownership in the communities. As a country or as a government, we have taken so long to realise that communities are losing and there is no direct benefit to those who would have lost due to human-wildlife conflict.”

Chief Siansale said the Campfire project was not benefiting communities.

“As we speak now there is nothing to show that Campfire is in existence, suffice to say maybe in a few pockets of our communities but in most parts of the country the project has lost meaning and we need to work on that one,” he said.

“Human- wildlife conflict has increased to unprecedented levels over time. The increase in new land population coupled with wildlife population increases, especially, elephants has seen this conflict increasing rapidly.”

He also blamed emerging communities for fuelling human-wildlife conflict.

“We are giving birth to children everyday. When a young boy finds a wife today, tomorrow they will be looking for a place to farm and stay.

“They need a field because they have a household, where do they go? They push towards the reserved land which is where we find animals. This is the mammoth task which we as traditional leaders are faced with,” he said.

Chief Siansale called on the government to craft laws that make sure communities near national parks benefit from wildlife management to appreciate the initiatives.

He added that a technical committee should be established to recommend compensation saying the fund should be run by an independent commission at district level.