‘20 killed in human, wildlife conflict’

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Caroline Chiimba

STAFF WRITER

chiimbac@dailynews.co.zw

A just-released report by the Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG) has revealed that 20 people died as a result of human-wildlife conflict while seven elephants and two white rhinos were killed by poachers since March 30, when President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared a national lockdown in a bid to contain the Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.

According to the report, between January and February, three elephants were killed by poachers, but since the beginning of the lockdown, at least seven elephants were lost in the Hwange National Park and Bubye Conservancy.

“Although the lockdown entailed a ban on unnecessary human movements, the number of animals that have been poached since the commencement of the lockdown has been on the rise.

“Two white rhinos were also killed in April, although the poaching incidents were not reported publicly. Lions and buffaloes were also among some of the animals that were killed in April.

“At least four elephants succumbed to poisoning by locals in Hwange, Kariba and Guruve at the start of the lockdown in March,” read part of the report.

The report added that the economic crisis is further pushing villagers to hunt and kill animals for their consumption or to sell the game meat.

Speaking to the Daily News, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) spokesperson Tinashe Farawo confirmed the spike in human-wildlife conflict, which he said has resulted in loss of life. He attributed the problem to limited resources available to ZimParks which limits its ability to carry out its mandate.

“What l can say is that there is a spike in human wildlife conflict but with poaching l cannot confirm until I get the correct figures.

“As much as we are trying very hard to tighten our conservation to reduce these conflicts and poaching, our resources are strained, and as you know we are not getting any assistance from the government.

“We are currently working very hard to widen our revenue streams in order to raise more money for wildlife conservation and management,” Farawo said.

While wildlife conservation is largely financed through tourism, the Covid-19 pandemic has crippled the sector, leaving wildlife more vulnerable to poaching syndicates who have taken advantage of the laxity of security systems to escalate illicit hunting.

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