Walter Nyamukondiwa Chinhoyi Bureau
Illegal settlers have invaded the Parks and Wildlife Management imposed buffer zone in Hurungwe district with the more daring ones settled in the game area through alleged collusion with traditional and political leaders. Some invaders are now inching closer to the world acclaimed Mana Pools, a development that threatens tourism and the environment in the area.
Animals that have for years been living in reserved vast tracts of land in the parks and safari area are now being pushed deeper into the parks area, obliterating established animal tracks.
The development has also fuelled poaching of animals and illegal gold mining in the Chewore area.
Hurungwe Rural District Council chief executive officer Mr Joram Moyo confirmed the development in an interview on Monday.
He said the encroachment affected a Campfire project in the area.
“We have illegal settlements in the wildlife buffer zone which have affected animals and are putting at risk the lives of people who are now getting closer to them,” he said.
“These are not authorised settlements and they are not planned. The Nyamakate area has planned settlements, but we now have people coming and getting land.”
The people who are settling in the wildlife areas are reportedly paying some unscrupulous headmen to be allocated the land illegally.
There is collusion with traditional leaders in the Chundu area who are also allocating land illegally.
Revenue from Campfire zones in Hurungwe district has dipped in recent years owing to poaching and illegal settlements, which have forced animals deeper into the wildlife area affecting hunting, which has been the mainstay for the rural authority for years.
There are three Campfire Zones in Hurungwe including Chewore-Mkwichi, Nyaodza and Sanyati-Rengwe.