By Shingirai Vambe
The complexity and urgency of wildlife management and conservation in Zimbabwe are double jeopardies as both the human aspect and wildlife are more often than not left in a quagmire.
Scholars and players in the tourism and conservation industry are seeking ways to refocus policy-relevant research on finding a delicate balance in human-wildlife coexistence.
Compounded by the rise in climate change largely driven by the human factor, the Zimbabwe National Parks (Zimparks) are seriously challenged to strike a balance between saving both humans and animals.
Speaking to The Post On Sunday, Zimparks Director General, Fulton Mangwanya said, “There is a need for capital injection to increase awareness. We are always on the ground regardless of poor road and mobile network coverage in dark areas such as Chipinge, Chirisa, and some parts of Hwange. We have engaged the Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (POTRAZ) to assist.”
“We do not have adequate resources for operations and largely rely on proceeds from tourists”, added Mangwanya.
There is a need to “educate our people to desist from destroying the environment”, in order to preserve the natural habitats and alleviate conflict.
Dr. Emmanuel Fundira, Vice Chairperson of the Community Campfire Association of Zimbabwe said, “The conflict has worsened with time as a result of frustration due to neglect as the majority of the affected people live in areas where agricultural activities are affected by climatic conditions.”
“Zimparks has to pay attention to the possible confusion which may arise when local authorities are given the mandate to look into the welfare of people and wildlife”, Fundira added.
Human-wildlife conflict is prevalent throughout Africa; thus, reducing it is an urgent conservation priority and key to coexistence between humans and animals.
Wildlife Conservation Action (WCA) Director, Moreangels Mbizah said, “The social aspect has since been destroyed and humans will do what is best for survival.”
Mbizah believes that as a country, the conflict has increasingly affected the attainment of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) 1,3, and 17 which entail the rights to life, shelter, and food. There currently is no cohesion between the affected people, the government, and the private sector.
There is a need for political will and the government should look into the land settling procedures as they have also contributed to the rising number of human-wildlife currently at 71 this year.
Speaking during a workshop held in Harare, Zimparks spokesperson, Tinashe Farawo, told journalists, “It’s sad but at the same time highly motivating to have reached this far with little to no resources for the day-to-day operations of Zimparks, especially after the COVID pandemic that globally affected international tourism.”
Zimbabwe is currently sitting on tonnes of elephant tusks, “frozen assets” and the Ministry of Environment and Climate continues to lobby on the international fora so that they can get monetary value from these stockpiles and contribute to the livelihoods of affected people across the country.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Resilience Anchors funded research that was presented yesterday by various key stakeholders which include the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA), Connected Conservation (CC), and the Government of Zimbabwe.
The Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism, and Hospitality, Mangaliso Ndlovu weighed in saying, “Zimbabwe anticipates solutions to the human-wildlife conflict that has reached alarming levels and the failure to do so will greatly compromise future generations.”