Zimparks petitioned over human-wildlife conflict

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

VILLAGERS in Matabeleland North’s Binga district have petitioned the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority (ZimParks) to set up a fund to compensate them for human losses and property damages resulting from human-animal conflict.

The Binga District Residents Association (BIDRA) last week wrote a petition to ZimParks demanding the protection of their lives and property.

“Our Constitution guarantees the right to life, property, food, personal security as well as the protection of our families. However these rights have been heavily violated in Binga district due to human-wildlife conflict.

“These conflicts have resulted in severe impacts on communities in the form of crop depredation, property damage, loss of livestock, human injury, transmission of domestic animal diseases  such as foot and mouth, nuisance encounters with small animals, exposure to zoonotic diseases, physical injury and loss of life,” reads part of BIDRA’s petition to  ZimParks.

According to the petitioners, their plight has been worsened by lack of a policy framework that compensates the victims of animal attacks in the country. The demanded that: “The Department of Parks and Wildlife enforces the policy that an animal that kills a human being must be killed immediately.

“The department develops preventive measures against problem animals like developing tool kits for villagers.”

ZimParks spokesperson, Tinashe Farawo admitted that his organisation is battling with a huge wildlife population, particularly elephants.

“We are crafting a human wildlife policy. We don’t have any. We need to have it to tackle such issues.

“At the moment, we are consulting stakeholders to say this is the problem that we have and how do we deal with it,” Farawo said.

Cases of human-wildlife conflict have been on the increase in Binga owing to the ballooning of wildlife population in the area.

Last year, seven people were killed by wildlife in the area.

The increases in  wildlife population  has been blamed on the international embargo  on culling following the promulgation of the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which imposed a global ban on trade particularly ivory trade.

Currently ZimParks control problematic animals through hunts and shooting but the villagers maintain that the methods have proved to be ineffective.