AS hundreds of Zimbabwe’s elephants and other game migrate to Botswana in search of water, hundreds more which have remained wandering in our national parks are moving out of the sanctuaries into communities bordering the parks.

Not so long ago, we heard the San people of Tsholotsho, Matabeleland North province, complaining that wildlife was now a serious menace in their locality as the animals hunt for water outside the country’s largest game reserve, Hwange National Park.

Reports that the wildlife, especially the jumbos,are roaming freely in Hwange town, should trigger alarm bells as the town is adjacent to the game park.

Given that human-wildlife conflict in densely populated areas can be catastrophic, we should all get worried when wildlife starts roaming areas they have not been known to freely wander before.

The drought affecting our national parks appears to have occurred earlier than before and that a more severe dry spell looms in the wake of the predicted El Nino weather condition; all thanks to the climate change phenomenon which we seem to be taking for granted as far as crafting mitigatory measures to protect our wildlife are concerned.

We are hearing nothing about efforts to alleviate a major catastrophe in the national parks, especially Hwange, in terms of drilling more boreholes for the wildlife.

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Much of Hwange National Park sits on the country’s largest aquifer, Nyamandlovu, which we believe can help save our animals from dying of thirst.

We are also hearing nothing about increasing the capacity of existing boreholes in the park. At least by now we should have been told that some of those many imported water drilling rigs have been sent to Hwange to help alleviate the water crisis there.

This probably points to how we are handling this wildlife asset, which contributes over US$200 million annually to the economy through safari hunting, game cropping, tourism and live animal sales.

Honestly, we cannot sit back and watch our wildlife migrate across the border or into villages in search of water, a commodity which we can provide for them within their reserved territories.

Are those responsible for running our game parks, specifically the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) telling us that there is no longer any ground water in Hwange National Park?

If there is no longer any water underground in the park, then it spells disaster for our wildlife tourism. But if water can still be found, then this is the height of failure. ZimParks cannot afford to let the nation down by failing to adequately protect our wildlife which is bringing into the country millions of dollars annually in revenue.

Granted, animals migrate across borders seasonally, but the multitudes that are now leaving the country and venturing into Botswana and our communities should be a cause for concern.

In our view, it all boils down to a lack of foresight on the part of ZimParks, which should have planned ahead for the survival of animals in terms of water provision.

Climate change is real and what is happening in Hwange National Park signals the disaster ahead if we fail to plan for our wildlife’s survival. The massive animal migration to Botswana and neighbouring communities is a serious wake-up call.