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Urgency required to stem human-wildlife conflict

The hyenas are preying on cattle, donkeys, goats and sheep.

WE reported in this edition of hyenas that have invaded Nkayi district in Matabeleland North province, where they are terrorising villagers and devouring livestock as cases of human-wildlife conflict escalate.

The hyenas are preying on cattle, donkeys, goats and sheep.

According to a report by a civic organisation, Habakkuk Trust, the hyenas are moving in cackles of up to 10 preying on livestock.

“In the month of August, an estimated 20 households lost cattle, donkeys and goats to hyenas,” said Thembani Ncube, Habakkuk Trust community advocacy action team convener.

It will not be the last we will hear of villagers losing their source of livelihood to wild animals. There will be more such cases as the wheels are moving slowly to contain human-wildlife conflicts.

We reported last month that a pride of lions had wreaked havoc in the Nyamakate area of Hurungwe where they killed livestock, leaving communal farmers poorer. We have also reported of elephants that have destroyed crops in Chiredzi’s Mahenye communal area.

We urge authorities to timeously respond to an SOS by villagers. The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) should be on the ground to attend to the pleas by villagers.

The villagers cannot continue losing their livestock to wild animals. They cannot continue to lose their crop after toiling throughout the season.

In a rural setting, livestock has a number of uses — from draught power to a source of wealth.

Losing their livestock is painful moreso, if they have no other means to replace them.

It’s not only livestock that have been lost. Several human lives have been lost as people and wildlife compete for resources such as food and water.

According to ZimParks, Zimbabwe recorded 15 deaths and 43 injuries during the first quarter of 2023. This is down from 22 deaths last year while injuries were up from the 18 recorded in the same period last year.

In 2022, 68 people lost their lives to wildlife attacks.

No life should be lost to human-wildlife conflict.

Earlier this year, ZimParks said it was in the process of establishing a relief fund to help victims of human-wildlife conflict.

While the fund cannot restore lost lives, it will go a long way in compensating those that would have lost livestock or injured by wildlife.

“Livestock losses resulting from the raids are threatening to plunge villagers into deep vulnerability as they rely on livestock for draught power and other economic needs,” Habakkuk Trust said.

A lasting solution should be found. Zimbabwe cannot continue losing lives due to human-wildlife-conflict. Authorities should put shoulders to the wheel to halt the loss of lives and livestock. It cannot be business as usual.

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