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Human-wildlife conflict claims 60 lives

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THE Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) is concerned at increasing cases of human wildlife conflict which have claimed 60 lives this year, while dozens have been permanently injured.

This year’s fatality rate has already doubled 2019 figures when 30 people were killed in attacks by wild animals. ZimParks’ spokesperson Tinashe Farawo said increased animal population is one of the major causes leading to human-wildlife conflict.

Farawo cited Hwange National Park, which is the country’s biggest home to elephants and currently housing 55000  of them against a carrying capacity of 15 000, as the hotbed of the deaths.

“We have lost 60 lives this year in humanwildlife conflicts and nearly 50 have been injured, many of them permanently, and can no longer fend for their families.

“As a result, people are being impoverished, which is really regrettable. “In fact, about half that number was killed by elephants while the rest are a result of other animal attacks,” Farawo told the Daily News yesterday.

“The thing is these animals are now overpopulated, especially in areas like Hwange National Park where the number of elephants surpasses the carrying capacity.

“When they are overpopulated, they become a danger to people and also to themselves. “Increased animal populations lead to water stress because of competition for a limited resource with people, who are always on the losing side.”

Farawo said ZimParks was working on modalities to translocate overpopulated animals to less populated regions around the country while other animals would have to be translocated outside the borders.

ZimParks has also embarked on education campaigns to enlighten people on the dangers of human-wildlife conflict.

“In 2018, we did translocations from areas where there were overpopulated animals to areas where there were less populated. “This is, however, an expensive exercise not withstanding such regulations like the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) which limit our activities.

“We have our own information department and time and again, we deploy officers to go out and educate people on what they can do to avoid more of these attacks by animals. “We are really concerned which is the reason why we are doing this,” he added.

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