Mbire community embarks on wildlife conservation

Fungai Lupande

Mashonaland Central Bureau

Mbire district, now famous for the much anticipated Kanyemba town, still remains a hotspot for conflict between humans and wildlife in Mashonaland Central province.

People in this district rely on subsistence farming and livestock production and this increases the risk of human-wildlife conflict either when farming encroaches onto animal corridors, or wild animals prey on livestock.

Recently a pack of 15 hyenas attacked six sheep belonging to Mr Nathan Muzeza of Kutegwa village under Chief Chitsungo.

Having successfully implemented the predator-proof mobile boma strategy in Binga, Wildlife Conservation Action is bringing the technology to Mbire as they commence work in the province.

The mobile boma is an enclosure made of canvas or PVC. The boma blocks the view of predators and can be moved around the field, with the useful extra effect of fertilising the soil in the process.

Speaking at a stakeholder engagement meeting, the founder and director of Wildlife Conservation Action Dr Moreangels Mbizah said her objective is to involve local communities in wildlife conservation.

The boma model falls under their sustainable livelihood goal where communities receive more benefits from living alongside wildlife by practising conservation farming.

Production of chillies and bee-keeping are some of the livelihood projects under the programme.

“Prior, wildlife mitigation mainly involved the preservation of wildlife species without taking into consideration the communities living with the animals,” she said. “We have been working in the Nyaminyami district for the past four years focusing on four goals. Human-wildlife coexistence is the first goal as we fight to reduce the negative impact of wildlife in communities.

“We use several measures to reduce human-wildlife conflicts, including our traditional methods and modern technology. We also have a community-led model where community guardians are trained and resourced to respond to conflict.”

The third goal is environmental education and awareness to bridge the knowledge gap.

Dr Mbizah said her group was working with the schools, coordinating seminars and creating field trips to game parks. 

“In communities living alongside wildlife, their encounter with animals is when animals attack people, livestock or destroy crops. We want to create a positive encounter with wildlife in their natural habitats,” she said.

“Our fourth goal is research and leadership. We want to understand wildlife movement and behaviour across different landscapes.” 

She said wildlife conservation had been dominated by whites with minimal participation from the majority and local communities. 

“Local people are participating in wildlife conservation and we want to strengthen the capacity of the next generation. We will support undergraduates by taking them to Chizarira National Park to get field experience,” he said. 

They will start work in Mbire and later on move to Muzarabani.

Forestry Commission provincial manager Mr Lucious Mujuru said forests were the natural habitat of wildlife and preservation of forests is key to wildlife preservation. 

“We have a nursery in Mbire which is not fully used. Collaboration is needed so that we provide more fruit trees to the community to enhance their livelihoods,” he said.

“During a recent visit to Mbire, the community expressed concern over human and wildlife conflict.”

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