Rising jumbo population overloads ecosystems: VP

Source: The Herald – Breaking news.

Rising jumbo population overloads ecosystems: VP 
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga launches the National Forest Policy in Bulawayo yesterday. Looking on are Minister of Environment, Climate and Wildlife Sithembiso Nyoni and Forestry Commission acting board chair Professor Munashe Shoko. – Pictures: Eliah Saushoma.
There is need for a holistic approach to the challenge of the ballooning animal population in Zimbabwe, particularly elephants, as their numbers affect ecosystems, habitats, and communities adjacent to national parks, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said yesterday.
He was speaking during the Human-Wildlife Conflict Relief Fund Indaba and the launch of the National Forest Policy held on the sidelines of the ongoing Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF).

VP Chiwenga said the event came at an opportune time, considering the centrality of the environment, climate, and wildlife sector to attaining the national vision of becoming an upper-middle-income society by 2030.

He said the country has not been spared from the scourge of human-wildlife conflict, particularly in areas adjacent to wildlife habitats.

“This challenge is increasingly threatening human life and people’s livelihoods. The consequences of human-wildlife conflict are more prevalent in areas where livestock and crop production are an integral part of people’s livelihoods and income,” he explained.

“In an endeavour to protect crops and livestock including the undertaking of other household daily chores, people are injured, maimed, or killed as a result of encounters with wild animals. 

Human, crops and livestock destruction does not only reduce incomes, but also affects the people’s abilities to feed their families, thereby impacting on nutrition, health and education capacities of households.”

According to a survey that the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority conducted recently, the population of elephants has surged from 84 000 in 2014 to over 100 000.

“If the wildlife population growth among animal species such as elephants, is left uncontrolled, it will lead to overgrazing, soil erosion and habitat degradation,” VP Chiwenga said.

He said since the country subscribes to the principle of sustainable utilisation, it has been using approaches such as hunting and management offtakes to reduce the numbers, but these approaches are, however, resisted and opposed for various reasons regionally and globally.

“It is disheartening to note, those who are opposing our conservation philosophy, have themselves failed to manage their wildlife populations, some to the point of extinction. Zimbabwe, with this concept that they oppose, has managed to grow its wildlife populations substantially,” he said. – New Ziana.