HARARE – More than 16 000 families have unilaterally resettled themselves in the Save Conservancy, the capacious wildlife sanctuary which tracks either side of Save River, triggering a potentially deadly human-wildlife conflict.
The stunning revelations were made by Environment, Water and Climate minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri while addressing a pass-out parade of 106 game rangers who graduated in Hwange recently.
“Our parks have not been spared from the gradual reduction of wildlife habitat due to illegal settlements and human encroachment into wildlife areas. Habitat loss for wildlife is among the major drivers of human-wildlife conflict,” she said.
“Save Conservancy is one such example of where over 16 000 families have settled themselves in wildlife corridors and wildlife areas. In turn, wildlife has responded by destroying crops, passing on diseases such as foot and mouth and killing livestock and at times people,” she added.
She also disclosed that last year alone, 40 people were killed and 30 were injured due to conflicts with wildlife while 95 animals of species were killed in order to save human life.
In addition, 346 cases of human-wildlife conflict were reported in the same year.
“I want to appeal to illegal settlers to desist from settling in wildlife buffer zones, wildlife corridors and their habitat. Only 13 percent of the total land in Zimbabwe is reserved for wildlife, the rest is for forestry and other human related activities. I urge our leadership, especially the traditional institutions to respect this 13 percent,” she said.
“We all need a change in mind set of how we perceive conservation issues and from a tender age, make our children realise that there is value in conserving our wildlife.
“As current generations, our wildlife resource is not ours alone to dispense. It belongs to future generations as well. Let’s use our resources sustainably so that we pass on the heritage to our descendants,” said the minister.