The deputy minister of Environment Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Barbara Rwodzi has said the increasing growth of animal population in the country and growing demand for food is one of the major drivers behind Human-Wildlife Conflicts (HWC) in the country.
Speaking during a visit to Masvingo Provincial Hospital to the victims of the Zaka hyena attack, Rwodzi said the increase in cases of HWC has become a cause for concern and thus the need to come up with a policy that addresses such issues.
“This year alone, the country has lost about 40 people to these conflicts. It is something so worrying not only for Zimbabwe but the whole continent more so Southern Africa region which is home to a large population of wildlife. We are working on a policy as government after the realization of the ever increasing cases of HWC on a regular basis. Right now we are waiting for a policy that is being worked on at ministerial level that seeks to address the challenges.
“Our country is home to a bigger population of the continent’s wildlife population which has led to animals attacking people’s sources of food while at the same time human beings are also attacked. These setbacks come at a time people are suffering from the effects of climate change on food production and animal attacks on food sources is worsening matters.
“During the rainy season, we have cases of crocodile and hippopotamus attacks which we have always been used to. Right now the unusual cases are presenting themselves like lion, elephant and hyena attacks which is a sign of how our animal population is growing,” said Rwodzi.
She however said there is need to strike a balance on the way forward on how best these conflicts can be resolved since animals are an important part of the ecosystem.
“Our animals are an important part of the environment and thus the ecosystem, so we need them. How best can we survive together is the question? Our communities are important to us but how best can we move forward sustainably after encountering challenges like these?
“In November we are going to present our case to Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which has blocked our intention to trade in ivory as a way forward because such proceeds can be channeled towards solving problems like these,” she added.
Government donated the sum of US$ 2 000 to the two victims (a couple of Robert Murove and Muchanyara Munodya) while the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Ezra Chadzamira pledged to settle hospital bills for the couple.