HE Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) has expressed concern over the ever increasing elephant population in the country amid fears national parks could soon run out of resources.
Speaking to Daily News yesterday, ZimParks public relations manager Tinashe Farawo, pictured, said the conservation authority had resorted to trans-locating some elephants to reduce overpopulation in some areas.
“Our animal population is growing, but the country is not growing and so we are forced to manage the small wildlife space available against the growing numbers of elephants and other wildlife. The human population is also growing, so there is a need for resources.
“We are witnessing an increase of conflict between the human population and the animal population. Even more worrying is that the animals are becoming a danger to themselves. You may know that elephants have a natural tendency of destroying trees, uprooting them with their trunks or pushing them down with their weight as they move about. Therefore, they are also destroying their own habitat which is also endangered. So they are becoming a danger unto themselves,” Farawo said.
He said the depletion of resources in animal habitats forced them to migrate to communal areas, a situation that has exacerbated human wildlife conflict, with elephants being behind 90 percent of wildlife attacks and deaths, followed by crocodiles.
“If vegetation is destroyed in the park and there is no more food, animals start moving into communities, which has resulted in the problems we have been having recently. Elephants can smell water from a distance of 10km, so they may start going into communities where they will start damaging gardens and endangering people’s lives.”
Farawo said Zimparks had been relocating some elephants to less densely populated, but suitable areas.
“We have been trying to deal with this problem by trans-locating some of the animals. In 2018 we moved 100 elephants from Save Valley. We were trying to do the same in 2020, but then came Covid-19. Translocation is one of the long term solutions, but it is a very costly exercise,” he said.
CITES, a multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and animals, banned the sale of elephants and Zimbabwe is a signatory and member in good standing.
Farawo took aim at some Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) which he accused of unfairly influencing CITES.
“There are some fly by night NGOs that are seen to be hijacking some of these important decisions at global level. As a country, we joined CITES soon after independence and we appreciate the work of the organisation,” he said.
“However, these organisations that infiltrate make it difficult for African nations like Zimbabwe to benefit from natural resources such as wildlife. It’s a fact that we have one of the largest elephant populations, and it should be reduced to ensure that the animals live in a healthy habitat with enough resources, while biodiversity and a balanced ecosystem are maintained.”