Politics & General News

Hwange Villagers Pay Heavily As Wildlife Encroaches Into Settlements

Tymon Sibanda, a village head on the outskirts of Victoria Falls, is between the proverbial rock and a hard place after losing three herds of cattle to lions.Sibanda from the Chief Mvuthu area said he felt helpless as he often watched a pride of lions devouring his cattle one by one as attacking the predators would have seen him charged for poaching and probably going behind bars for some time.“Lions and hyenas’ prey on anything including villagers while in our fields, elephants, baboons and birds have almost depleted all our crops this year,” he lamented in an interview with CITE.“I recently lost three cows to lions that attack our livestock from the kraals at night and even during the day in grazing areas.”Sibanda said there was very little the villagers could do to protect their livestock against the marauding wild animals such as lions, hyenas, elephants and baboons that stray from surrounding game reserves because they have witnessed many being thrown behind bars for killing the intruding animals.A snap investigation in communities surrounding game reserves in Hwange district by CITE revealed that many families have been left broken after breadwinners were jailed for killing wild animals in a desperate effort to protect their livestock or crops.Aggressive coal mining by mainly Chinese owned companies, frequent droughts, lack of funding for conservation efforts and increasing populations has seen more wild animals straying into human settlements, fuelling a human-wildlife conflict.Given Moyo, councillor from Kachechete ward in Hwange West district said the situation was now dire in his area.Moyo said he had been forced to move his family into different villages more than once to escape the scourge of stray wild animals.

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