Zimbabwe’s human-wildlife conflict compensation scheme has been met with skepticism by various stakeholders.
Last month the government said it will establish a fund that will be used to compensate people who would have been attacked by wild animals.
The Human-Wildlife Conflict Relief Fund for Victims in Zimbabwe is expected to cover death, maiming, and injuries.
Windas Sianene, a human-wildlife conflict victim from Binga, told VicFallsLive that he has not received any help from the government.
Sianene (43) from Binga had his left leg and arm bitten off by a crocodile on the morning of 28 September 2022 after he jumped into the Mlibizi River.
He was fleeing from five elephants that had approached him as he was fishing with friends.
The father-of-three was attacked by the crocodile as he tried to swim to safety.
Sianene survived by jumping on the back of the reptile and shoving his arm down its throat to make it gag until he was rescued.
He was initially taken to Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo – about 436 kilometres from his home in Binga.
Both his legs and left arm were amputated in a botched operation and his relatives took him to Zambia after his wounds failed to heal.
Sianene was amputated on both legs again in Zambia. He said:
I have not been helped by anyone from the government.
They tried to contact me soon after the incident, but I have not heard anything from them since then.
It’s only well-wishers that have been assisting me (with food and medical fees).
The Human-Wildlife Conflict Relief Fund for Victims in Zimbabwe is supposed to assist people like Sianene.
Blessing Matasva, a co-founder of the Green Institute Trust that has been monitoring human-wildlife conflicts in Manicaland province, said:
We have our reservations in terms of how the fund is going to operate since the government has highlighted that it is a self-funding mechanism.
We are worried that there won’t be enough money flowing into the fund.
Issues of regulatory frameworks protecting the funds need to be addressed because there is an issue of the limit to say who is going to get compensated.
Given Moyo, a councillor in one of the wards in Hwange district that bears the brunt of the human wild conflicts said:
We have been advocating for communities to benefit from their natural resources, including elephants that are being sold to Asian countries.
Elephants also destroy crops and we have been lobbying that they are culled so that the meat is given to starving people in the communities, but our pleas have been ignored.
We are worried about the recently announced compensation scheme because it does not address the real issues that communities are facing.
We want the compensation fund to be backed by law so that victims and communities can hold those in power to account when they don’t deliver.
We cannot celebrate a fund that is not complete when people’s crops are being destroyed year after year and lives are lost due to the mismanagement of natural resources.
In Botswana, the government pays transport and medical costs for victims of attacks by wild animals.
In the event of death, the victim’s family is given money to cover funeral costs and loss of income.
Farmers who lose livestock or their crops to wildlife are also compensated. | VicFallsLive