Zimparks Warns of Escalating Human-Wildlife Conflict


The New Zimbabwe 

Date Published

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The Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management (Zimparks) has warned of escalating human-wildlife conflicts, especially involving elephants, as the dry season takes hold.

Zimparks spokesperson Tinashe Farawo said the country has registered an overpopulation of elephants in the country. 

Elephants, whose huge bodies require lots of water, become more mobile in search of the precious liquid which becomes scarce during the dry months.

Last week, a herd of elephants was spotted in Kwekwe, where a man was last month trampled to death.

“We have received a report of elephants in Kwekwe. We have responded with a view of sending the elephants away. If we fail to do that we will definitely pull down some of the problem animals so that communities are safe. We keep on encouraging communities to give us information as much as possible,” Farawo said.

“There was an unfortunate incident in Kwekwe were someone was trampled to death by an elephant. It’s very unfortunate that another life has been lost,” Farawo said, adding Zimparks rangers are on the ground to deal with stray animals.

“We are encouraging our communities to stay away from wild animals. We are also encouraging our communities to minimise movements at night. They must make sure the animals are comfortable and not try to corn them because the moment the animals are uncomfortable, they will definitely attack,” Farawo said in an interview.

“The problem we are having is that our elephants are overpopulated that’s why they are now invading human settlements and communities in search of food and water. We are likely to have more distress calls from communities as we now enter the dry season of the year,” he said.

In Gokwe two lives were lost in the elephant attacks.

“One of the challenges being faced by the district is the human and wildlife conflict. Elephants are straying from Chirisa, Chizarira and Nyaminyami Rural District Council. They are pouncing on people so far we have lost two lives. This is a situation which is very deplorable,” Gokwe North District Development Coordinator Stewart Gwatirinda said.

The situation of stray elephants has been reported in some parts of Shurugwi, Gokwe North and Kwekwe.

In Gokwe North elephants have been escaping from Chirisa, Chizarira and Nyaminyanyami Rural District Council.

“We have 12 elephants in the constituency. They were 13 and the Department of National Parks shot one to scare them away. However, they are still roaming the area although we initially thought after the death of one of them, they would go back, which did not happen as per their nature,” Shurugwi South MP Edmund Mkaratigwa said in an interview.

Mukaratigwa said every year at least three elephants cross through a certain path and then go back through the same route to nearby national parks.

He added that the number of elephants which crossed through the community had tripled. “This year, the number of elephants is just too much and that has drawn the attention of many people in the area. The District Coordinator has been very active in the whole process, and we are happy that people are safe. We are nevertheless advising people to keep away from the elephants because wild animals can actually be very dangerous to human being especially where people upset them,” he said.