Government officials in Matabeleland North Province are considering establishing some form of compensatory system for villagers who are losing their livelihoods to wild animals, especially communities that live close to the Hwange National Park.
Wild animals, among them elephants, lions and buffaloes, encroach into surrounding villages in search of food and water and end up attacking people.
In 2021 alone, more than 80 people were trampled to death by elephants.
This was revealed by Godfrey Mukwakwami, Matabeleland North Director for Economic Development while speaking to the United Nations (UN) Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator to Zimbabwe, Edward Kallon who had paid a courtesy call to the province. Said Mukwakwami:
We are having problems at Hwange National Park because of climate change.
There is insufficient water and food within the conservancies and animals are now straying into human settlements.
We are having many problems and that has led to human-wildlife conflict, as the animals are also destroying villagers’ crops.
We are trying to come up with some form of a compensatory system whereby the affected villagers, most of whom are of a lower income, can be compensated.
We will be glad to have some technical assistance from your organisation as to how that can be addressed.
As you are aware, wild animal herds are controlled by conventions, we just cannot dispose of them. There are a lot of laws which protect those animals.
There might be a need to have some study of some sort to see what can be done to address the human and wildlife conflict happening in those areas adjacent to Hwange National Park.
In response, the UN resident coordinator acknowledged he was aware of the human and wildlife conflict after it was brought to his attention when he visited Hwange National Park.
He said he would look at how UN systems could assist, adding that “something needs to be done definitely.”