Jumbo attacks on the rise

Fungai Lupande

Mash Central Bureau

At least 10 people in Mbire have this year died from elephant attacks while communities in Rushinga, bordering Mozambique, have incurred post-harvest losses owing to elephants that have grazed their fields.

Rushinga Rural District Council (RDC) acting chief executive Mr Kudakwashe Jonasi said the communities were settled in the corridor of wildlife to Mozambique along Mazowe River .

He said the RDC and the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) were failing to contain the situation because the elephants were nomadic and when human-wildlife conflict cases are reported to ZimParks, they normally arrive when the animals would have moved to other places.

“We report to the National Parks when the elephants come near homesteads or start destroying fields. Most of the time when they arrive, the elephants would have moved away,” he said.

“We are working hand-in-hand with ZimParks, but on several incidents they arrive and find nothing on the ground to the extent that their response is no longer urgent. There is a need for a sustainable solution to this problem.

“Previously, we had a CAMPFIRE programme under Nyatana wildlife which was a joint management between us and Mudzi district in Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe. This project had a transfrontier corridor through Mozambique where migrant wildlife gets their passage to and from neighbouring countries.”

Mr Jonasi said in the Nyatana wilderness programme boundaries were drawn along Mazowe River and there was a tripartite agreement with a hunter who later pulled out around 2014. He said there was need for engagements with UMP to find another concession in the hunting area.

The Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) was introduced by the Government in the late 1980s to empower communities living in wildlife areas by encouraging tourism and providing funds for ecology research.

The project enables hunters to pay fees to be allowed to kill one large game animal, most often an elephant.

Part of the hunting fees are channelled to the benefit of communities. 

ZimParks spokesperson Mr Tinashe Farawo said they understood the situation the communities were in.

“The problems in Rushinga are also happening in Tsholotsho, Dande, Muzarabani and Mbire. We work with RDCs who are given appropriate authority so that they can react to problem animals. 

“We are working with African Wildlife to train scouts so that they can assist us. Mbire is the most affected district in terms of human-wildlife conflict as 10 people have died this year from wild animals’ attacks. 

“We encourage communities to give us or their RDCs information. We have CAMPFIRE programmes in almost all districts, but only a few people are coming because of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Rushinga MP Cde Tendai Nyabani said the most affected wards were Mukosain (ward 1), Chapinduka (ward 2), Chimandau and Machirinje (ward 3) and Mary Mount in ward 4. He urged the RDC to come up with CAMPFIRE programmes for communities to benefit.

“Villagers lost their grain from the Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme to elephants. ZimParks must bring to finality to this issue of human-wildlife conflict,” he said.

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