Story by Tichaona Kurewa, Victoria Falls Bureau Chief
The Hwange Rural District Council and development partners are training villagers on ways to mitigate human-wildlife conflict in the district.
This comes as Zimbabwe’s ballooning elephant population has resulted in an upsurge of human-wildlife conflict, with nearly 400 people having been killed by wild animals in the past five years.
This has necessitated the urgent need for stakeholders to collaborate to end the scourge, with the latest being the training of villagers in Hwange on ways to reduce human-wildlife conflict.
“Wildlife especially elephants are a challenge in our area, so we will certainly apply what we learnt here to save our crops,” a villager told the ZBC News.
Another noted, “With this training, there will be no need to spend the whole night guarding the fields. The technology will work for us while we sleep.”
Hwange Rural District Council says the training programme is one of the many practical strategies to ensure people live in harmony with wildlife.
“We have been putting about seventeen elephants each cropping season but with the use of science and technology we are now training g farmers to use technologies such as chilli fences, we will save the elephants at the same time protecting the farmers’ crops. This year, we are expecting a bumper harvest and that should not be reversed by elephants hence this training,” said Hwange Rural District Council representative, Mr Nxolelani Ncube.
After training, the farmers will be equipped with a human-elephant conflict mitigation toolbox which includes dried ground chilli, sisal string to make chilli fences, a slasher, a bucket, used engine oil and a chilli dispenser.
The international ban imposed on the ivory trade ban has seen Zimbabwe’s elephant population ballooning to around 85 thousand, exceeding 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, after 66 people were killed by animals in 2022 compared to 68 the previous year.
The pending results of the Kavango Zambezi (KAZA) Elephant Aerial Survey are expected to give tangible evidence to calls by Southern African countries for the international community to lift the ban imposed on the trade of ivory.