By Karen Nyeraurombo
Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZIMPARKS) spokesperson Tinashe Farawo has revealed that about 23 people have been killed in human and wildlife conflict in the country since January.
The conflicts are attributed to the increase in the number of animals beyond the country’s carrying capacity.
This has seen animals encroaching into villages where they end up destroying crops and livestock, which results in villagers stepping in, in a bid to save their livestock.
Speaking in an interview on Tuesday-Talk the Zimparks spokesperson said they receive distress calls from communities daily.
“January up until May, 23 people have been killed in human and wildlife conflict and 25 have been injured, and the distressing calls that we receive from communities continue to increase daily.
“When communities are competing for food with these animals its war, people are killed every day. Only a fortnight ago a village head in Mbire was killed in full view of his wife whilst he was trying to scare away the animals from his field.
“We need people to understand the challenges we are going through as an authority. When people are looking after these animals it is not a stroll in the park, only two years ago we lost two of our gallant fighters in Kariba where they were drowned by suspected poachers.
“These are the dangers we have had. We have a history of people being killed not only by poachers but also by these animals buffaloes, elephants, and they spend 21 days in the bush,’’ he said.
Farawo added that rangers need equipment and food which cost money and the situation is being made difficult by those who are banning trade in certain species such as elephants.
“They need food, boots and other things which cost money and when people say don’t sell, don’t do this, then give us the money so that we can look after the animals.
“…We have men and women who spend 21 days on extended patrol in the bush looking after these animals, protecting these animals from poachers, they are surrounded by danger.
“They also need to feel comfortable whilst they are in the bush, for example in Beitbridge two days ago an investigator had his vehicle set on fire by poachers and he is battling for his life. These are some of the dangers we are talking about,” he said.
According to Zimparks, because of the huge numbers, animals such as elephants are also destroying the natural habitat which is making it difficult for certain bird species to breed.