Story By Tichaona Kurewa
An elephant that was wreaking havoc in the Mkhosana and Mfelandawonye suburbs of Victoria Falls has been put down by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, much to the relief of residents.
The conflict is an example of the consequences of an international embargo imposed on the trade in wildlife products and species in Southern Africa, which has seen Zimbabwe’s elephant population bloating to around 85 000, surpassing the country’s carrying capacity of 45 000.
This has resulted in the animals frequenting human settlements in search of food and water, but with dire consequences for Victoria Falls residents and others who have their gardens, fields, orchards and perimeter fences ransacked by elephants on a daily basis.
Over the weekend, the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) reacted to a distress call by the community and put down a lone elephant that had wreaked havoc in Mkhosana and Mfelandawonye residential areas.
A resident told the ZBC News, “We are grateful to Zimparks for listening to our plight and the patrols they are making in our areas. Let them continue and increase such.”
“We are very happy, the elephant was a real problem and it was destroying our fruit trees, mangoes and paw paws and others. We had resorted to putting elephant dung on our crops to scare them away,” another said.
Wildlife expert Bulisani Mathe gave an insight into circumstances that warrant an animal to be put down.
“It is not in the best interest of conservationists to put down wild animals, but there are times when it has to happen. When a wild animal becomes a threat to human life and property and when it’s injured beyond recovery through human intervention such as snares, it has to be put down before it kills people or damages more property.”
Last year, about four people were trampled to death by elephants in the resort city.
The international ban imposed on the trade in wildlife products and species in Southern Africa has led to a sharp increase in human wildlife conflict, with authorities putting the death toll at nearly 400 people in the past five years.
The pending results of the Kavango Zambezi (KAZA) Elephant Aerial Survey are expected to ratify calls by Southern African countries for the international community to lift the ban imposed on ivory trade.