Villagers in Bulilima Ward 8, Huwana area were left shell shocked after a marauding herd of elephants trampled a fellow community member to death on Sunday last week. The deceased's remains were discovered the following morning.
Cases of human and wildlife conflict have been on the increase in the District owing to climate change induced drought forcing elephants to invade villages and wreak havoc in search of food and water. According to the National Parks and Wildlife Management authority, at least 55 elephants starved to death in the past two months in Hwange National Park forcing some animals to encroach into villages.
Habakkuk Trust Community Advocacy Action Team in the area reported that Huwana ward was invaded by a herd of elephants with calves over the weekend. The area Councilor, Mr Elias Dube who described the situation as dire indicated that they have called in the Problem Animal Control Unit which is expected to assist in driving the wild animals away from the ward. He further highlighted that the presence of these elephants currently positioned along Manzamnyama river poses an imminent threat to humans, livestock and disruption of the ecosystem.
Villagers are living in constant fear due to the increase in the number of problematic elephants. Bulilima Rural District Council is making efforts to educate communities on precautionary steps to be taken in the event of an elephant invasion and to encourage them to avoid travelling at night.
The issue of human and wildlife conflict emerged during a Local level Advocacy Training workshop in Bulilima Ward 10 where local communities called for the capacitation of CAMPFIRE (Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources) committee. The committee is responsible for representing the interests of the community and ensure that they are fully involved in the management of local natural resources.
Areas that are in proximity to national parks and those close to the country's borders have been facing perennial problems with marauding elephants and other wild animals that migrate in search of food and water. Animal migration, which is largely influenced by climate change has also been aided by vandalism of boundary line solar fencing meant to reduce human and wildlife interactions.
Southern African countries which include Botswana, Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Angola and South Africa are home to the largest population of African elephants. Incidences of human and wildlife conflict are prevalent in these areas and countries like Botswana recently resolved to lift the ban on elephant hunting, a move meant to reduce conflict between animals and humans and raising revenue for the country.
Source: Habakkuk Trust