Stray animals on the runway to be shot

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The Zimbabwe Civil Aviation Authority (CAAZ) and Air Zimbabwe appear to be at a loss on what to do about the stray wild pigs that pose a danger to air traffic at Harare International Airport.

The National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority have since granted CAAZ authority to shoot the animals.

“We are doing everything we can to solve the problem. The National Parks has authorized us to shoot to kill animals that stray into the airport area. But we are surrounded by farms and these animals will continue to cause problems. Some of the animals come from Mbizi Game Park,” said David Chaota CAAZ chief executive.

He said CAAZ had since hired a private company to erect a perimeter fence and put in place a new surveillance system in a desperate bid to help the situation.

“The Pigs give us a major problem because they dig burrows under the fence to get onto the runway. The security we have at the moment meets international standards but the problem we have now is that of animals,” he said.

Air Zimbabwe board chairman Jonathan Kadzura said the existence of wild animals around the airport area was very worrying.

“There is very little that we can do as Air Zimbabwe outside complaining to the CAAZ asking them to rectify the problem. What is very worrying is that we can lose lives and aircraft just because of one stray pig,” said Kadzura.

He said a single aircraft cost around US$80 million and it would be very costly to lose it because of a stray animal on the runway.

“No foreign airline would want to land at an airport, where they risk hitting animals. This problem should be rectified now before traffic increases ahead of the World Cup,” he said.

An Air Zimbabwe plane from Harare to Bulawayo crashed into wild pigs during take-off in November last year and injured several passengers. The Chinese-made MA60 aircraft was extensively damaged.

A few weeks later a South African Airways plane headed for Johannesburg also hit two pigs during takeoff.

The Parks and Wildlife Management Authority came onto the scene later and hunted down and captured at least 90 hogs.

Parks spokesperson Caroline Washaya-Moyo said they were equally concerned with these animals and they were working closely with CAAZ to correct the situation.

“The problem has to be solved as a matter of urgency and what we have done is to tell CAAZ that we will be providing regular patrols around the airport.

“This will be done through our Problem Animal Control department,” said Washaya-Moyo.

She said CAAZ did not have the capacity to shoot the animals.