HWANGE residents have sent an SOS as elephant herds stray from the Hwange National Park to the coal mining town in search of water.
In an interview, Greater Whange Residents Trust co-ordinator Fidelis Chima said: “Indeed, human- wildlife conflict is happening in Lusumbami, Makwika and Lwendulu suburbs. This is mainly due to water challenges in the national park and increased mining activities that are disturbing wildlife habitat.”
An estimated 50 elephants have been spotted in the town, where they are also destroying water pipes, vegetable gardens and mango trees.
Researcher and policy analyst Nkosi Sibanda said: “They damage water pipes feeding the households, and then they drink the water. At times you can find a herd as big as 50 elephants within residential areas.”
Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) rangers recently visited the area and fired blank shots in the air to scare the elephants away, but the animals are staying put.
ZimParks spokesperson Tinashe Farawo encouraged communities to be more alert.
“We are encouraging communities to report to us as soon as possible and also discouraging them from moving at night and always be alert because animals are in search of water,” Farawo said.
The fear of human-wildlife conflict comes as Zimbabwe has recorded 15 deaths and 43 injuries in the first quarter of year.
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During the same period last year, there were 22 deaths and 18 injuries.