Lions, hyena’s terrorise Mbire District

By Tapiwa Machemedze

MARAUDING lions are preying on livestock in the Masoka area of Mbire bringing the perennial challenge of human-wildlife conflict under the spotlight.

Masoka residents told the ZBC News that lions and hyenas have off late started attacking guard dogs in a worrying trend.

“Hyenas are giving us headaches they are preying on goats, cattle and dogs. We consider these dogs to be our guards. Parks comes sometimes and they do assessments then they go back and lions prowl at night and hyenas prowl at night. We stay at our fields keeping a lookout for elephants,” said John Chisunga the Mutamberi village Head.

Winnie Mwinga weighed in saying with recent floods destroying crops in Masoka, livestock would have been their only source of livelihood but it’s slowly being wiped out by wildlife.

“All our livestock has all been wiped out by lions and we don’t know how to survive, with the washing away of our crops we thought we would sell our livestock and get money for food, right now we all sleep in one room from the father, mother and the children because the lions open our doors,” she said.

Mbire District development coordinator Richard Maruta said the lions have started attacking dogs and this is a particularly worrying trend.

“We have heard reports that of late the lions have started attacking gods and we are afraid that they may turn into man-eating lions,” he said.

He urged villages to adhere to the voluntary curfew imposed by the community to protect each other.

The wildlife conflicts fall amid reports of Zimparks not taking any serious action to keep the wildlife way and Mbire legislator Honourable Douglas Karoro who visited Masoka on Sunday committed to continuing to engage the department and other concerned stakeholders.

“I’m glad you(villagers) have mentioned all these problems and we will take them up with Zimparks, the leaders will hear these concerns and they will ask the Park whether they have made the necessary checks on the community. So Zimparks will assist you and ensure the animals are kept at bay,” he said.

Zimparks spokesperson Tinashe Farawo said the human-wildlife conflict has been growing lately not only in Mbire but other parts of the country amid a rising wildlife population.

“We have received reports of problem lions in Mbire, we are receiving such reports in almost every part of the country, it’s not only Mbire, but we are getting reports from Bulilima Hwange, almost every district in the country, this is the problem that we are grappling with, we are battling an increased population of wildlife and this wildlife is now invading human settlements of course in search of food and water,” said Farawo.

The department discouraged Masoka villagers from driving their cattle into the wildlife parks.

“When we reacted we discovered that communities tend to drive their cattle in areas surrounding the park so their cattle are now attacked by lions, we are on the ground reacting to that problem but we are also doing a lot of educational campaigns to teach people to understand animal behaviour so that we avoid loss of lives and livestock because that is the source of livelihood for our people.”

In a bid to promote biodiversity there are no physical boundaries like fences between human settlements and game reserves making human-wildlife conflict a perennial problem as the two parties struggle to co-exist.