Human wildlife conflict cases on the rise

By John Nhandara

Cases of human-wildlife conflict are on the increase, with revelations that 68 people were killed last year, while 45 others lost their lives this year.

More than 800 000 families are settled close to game parks or protected areas as the country grapples with a sharp increase in cases of human wildlife conflict.

“We have many settlements close to parks and this has resulted in human-wildlife conflict cases,” Wildlife Conservation Action representative, Dr Mary Angles Mbizah said.

“In my ward in Binga, this year alone we have lost 200 hectares of crops due to wildlife,” noted Councillor Elman Mudenda, of Mucheni Community Conservancy.

It is against this background that stakeholders have teamed up for a holistic approach to sustainable wildlife management solutions.

Dr Carey Farley, the Chief of party of USAID Resilience said, “There are many cases of the conflict and some are even unreported and captured in our data, but the trend is increasing. So, we are finding solutions to human-wildlife conflict since it is a development and humanitarian as it is also a conservation concern.”

The country’s wildlife conservation efforts seem to have also been hampered by the Convention of International Trade on Endangered Species (CITES) restrictive measures on the trade of ivory.

ZIMPARKS director general, Dr Fulton Mangwanya said, “They are denying us the opportunity and views of unlocking value of our trophies so that we channel the resources for community development and wildlife management.”

“The only way we can make sure we conserve our flora and fauna is to have resources and at the moment, we are denied the right to invest in conservation as we are sitting on this ban,” said Dr Emmanuel Fundira, president of the Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe.

Range states are hoping to capitalise on the forthcoming CITES 19th Conference of Parties 19 in Panama scheduled for November to call for the lifting of the ban on ivory trade as they are saddled with high cost of keeping huge stockpiles which they are not allowed to trade.