Hwange villagers call for revision of wildlife laws

By Judith Sibanda 

Hwange villagers have called on the government to review wildlife laws as they say they feel that more rights are being given to them than human beings.

The villagers under Chief Mvuthu and Chief Shana have over the years experienced severe droughts during and after the cropping season as animals such as elephants, buffalos and baboons invade their fields after straying from their sanctuaries into the communities.

Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) and Forestry Commission own almost every wildlife land in these areas while some are privately owned.

The animals escape through unfenced forests, while the buffer zone is no longer demarcated.

Mercia Dube from BH32 said she lost over half of her cropping produce for this season to elephants and baboons.

“We have often vented our frustrations to the local leadership, but they say they have no powers of crafting by-laws at village level,” Dube said.

“We are not allowed to kill those animals, but we ask why this has to be so because we have never benefitted anything from them, instead we keep losing without compensation being given.” 

Kraal head from Kachechete ward Joshua Ngwenya lamented how villagers had lost their produce, yet nothing is being done to compensate them.

“Animals are given so many rights by the government yet they have caused so much pain among the communities, so we would like to bring it to the government’s attention that we want them to revise these laws that come with more prohibitions to protect the animals than us.” 

However, Hwange District Council chief executive officer Phindile Ncube said the revision of laws was a process that is done at the central government level.

“To mitigate this problem though, we have introduced some rangers who are sent in pairs where the problem of animals is rife and this has helped those communities but we would like to also urge them to desist from conducting illegal activities inside the parks because some of these animals stray due to human threats (poaching) inside the national parks.” 

So far this year, 14 people have been killed by animals such as lions and elephants.

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