By Audience Mutema
GOVERNMENT plans to craft a policy to regulate and find a solution to growing animal-human conflict in the country’s wildlife sanctuaries that border in particular rural communities.
Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister, Priscah Mupfumira, told Parliament Wednesday during the question and answer session that Zimbabwe will this month host a joint AU and EU summit where the issue is set to be discussed.
“We are in the process of coming up with a policy on human and wildlife conflict. It is a topical issue at the moment and House might be informed that on 24th and 25th June, we are hosting an AU and EU environment summit on wildlife and human conflict with a view to make sure that we conserve our animals and also protect the human living with the wildlife,” said Mupfumira..
“We hope that the recommendations at the end of the summit, will come up with other resolutions which we will put into the policy which we are coming up with on wildlife and human conflict.”
She was responding to a question from Zanu PF Gokwe-Chireya MP, Tonderayi Moyo who wanted to know if government had a policy to regulate problems between rural communities and conservancies around them.
Mupfumira added that Zimbabwe’s growing elephant population has also presented major problems for communities.
“What we are looking at is how we prevent human and wildlife conflicts. I will be coming shortly with the paper on elephants because that is where we have an issue.
“Our capacity is around 50 000 elephants and at the moment we have over 84 000 elephants, which means we have (over)-shot our capacity. As you are aware, the animals require land for feeding and water, as a result we have excess numbers, and there is conflict between the humans and the wildlife,” the Environment Minister said.
“We are doing our best to make sure we prevent the conflicts and make sure that there is co-existence. We will be re-launching of the Communal Ares Management Program for Indigenous Resources Project (Campfire) because it is one of the projects which manages such as issues as human and wildlife conflict.”
In the early years of independence, the Campfire project was a major income earner for rural communities who felt involved in conservation and were willing participants in the protection of wildlife within their communities.
Recently, authorities in Victoria Falls had to put down a bull elephant that had terrorised communities in the country’s foremost tourist resort.