Traditional leaders demand hunting quotas for communities


Nokuthaba Dlamini

Hwange—Traditional leaders in Matabeleland North’s Hwange district, a hot spot of human-wildlife conflict, are demanding hunting quotas for communities adjacent to game reserves and Forestry Commission areas as compensation for losses they suffer due to invasions by wild animals.

Hwange is home to Zimbabwe’s largest game reserves, the Hwange National Park and the Zambezi National Park in the north western part of the country.

Communities in the district have to contend with intrusion by predators such as lions and hyenas that target their livestock.

Villagers have lost livestock to wild animals

Elephants often destroy crops during farming seasons and invade nutrition gardens while, in some cases villagers, have been killed by wild animals straying from game reserves.

The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) says communities, especially in Hwange and Dete, are also encountering buffaloes and elephants at water points as competition for water due to El Nino-induced drought sweeping across Southern Africa.

Headman Musa Ndlovu from Hlanganani villager under Chief Mvuthu said it was high time the authorities tackled the worsening human-wildlife conflict, including allowing villagers to benefit from the natural resources through hunting quotas.

“Whenever I see a lion or elephant, I become angry because of the damage the animals cause in our communities. Lions and hyenas attack livestock inside the kraals at night and whenever we make reports Zimparks rangers say they can only try to chase them away,’’ Ndlovu told NewsHub.

“But the animals continue to kill our livestock at night without any compensation being given. We are appealing to the government to at least give us hunting rights so that we can use the money to protect ourselves and livestock ensuring that the parks are fenced off and that we have predator- proof kraals,” added the traditional leader.

Another village head, Francis Mathe from Jabulani Village, said he had lost many cattle to wild animals.

“These lions and hyenas attack in groups and we are not safe. I have lost over 10 cattle as some are killed inside the kraals while others are attacked in the pastures, sometimes in my in my presence. The burden is being felt even more severely now because of the droughts.

“Our wish as traditional leaders is to benefit from these wild animals through a hunting quota system. We will use the money generated from hunting quotas to buy food and repair the damages being caused by elephants. l believe that if that is done our relationship with the custodians of the wildlife will improve,” he said.

Acting Chief Mvuthu, born Bishop Matata Sibanda, said almost every homestead in Hwange had lost livestock and crops to wild animals.

Acting Chief Mvuthu

Sibanda said it was painful that none of the victims have been compensated for their losses.

“One woman was gored by a buffalo at her homestead last year and has become disabled, but nothing was done by the government to stop this. We have a number of similar reports in our jurisdiction, but no one has been assisted.

“Our call is for the authorities to give us a portion in the management of these animals to cater for every victim, and l believe that will foster good relations,” said Sibanda in an interview with NewsHub.

Patience Gandiwa, the Zimparks director of international conservation affairs and executive technical advisor in the director-general’s office, acknowledged the communities’ struggles.

“People have got user rights that are given to them through a permit system,” said Gandiwa.

The Parks and Wildlife Act was amended in 2000 to devolve authority over wildlife conservation to rural district councils, giving birth to the Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources(Campfire).

“Under the scheme (Campfire), there have been some successes and challenges and the issue of human wildlife conflict has been escalating and sometimes the communities have been suffering because the authorities do not have sufficient resources (to deal with the problem),” added Gandiwa.

She acknowledged a rise in snake bites and baboon attacks.

Official statistics show that 71 people died and 50 others were injured due to human-wildlife conflict in Zimbabwe in 2021 alone, a rise from the previous year’s 60 deaths and 40 injuries.

The number of deaths went down to 35 last year, with communities close to the Hwange National Park being the most affected.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy