By Leonard Ncube
A man from Hwange died allegedly after being attacked by elephants while herding cattle on Friday bringing to 22 the number of people killed by wildlife countrywide since January this year.
Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) spokesperson Mr Tinashe Farawo attributed the attack on humans by wildlife to the escalating human-wildlife conflict caused by drought.
He said 55 elephants have died in Hwange National Park alone in the past two months because of drought and animals were now invading human settlements in search of food and water.
“We confirm that we received a report about a man who was killed by elephants in Lukosi area of Hwange and that becomes the 22nd incident of people killed by wildlife since January. Elephants account for 40 percent of these deaths,” said Mr Farawo.
He said Zimparks desperately needs investment into water sources to prevent death of wildlife and ultimately protect humans from animals, especially elephants that invade communities in search of water, food and habitat.
“We’re mourning as an authority that unfortunately another life has been lost. If you look at the bigger picture you see that we need to invest into conservation so we have more water sources and security among other things.
“Since two months ago 55 elephants, excluding other species, have died in Hwange National Park alone due to starvation as there is no water and food. Animals are travelling long distances looking for water and are dying within 50 metres of water sources. Initially we suspected that it was anthrax or poisoning but investigations showed that they are dying because of drought,” said Mr Farawo.
He said the carcasses were found with their tusks and trophies intact as poaching has gone down due to measures put in place by Government to curb illegal hunting.
There are fears that more animals will die before the rainy season due to excessive heat and drought, added Mr Farawo.
“The biggest threat is loss of habitat because of the huge destruction caused by wildlife. We are trying our best to de-silt some of the water sources but the challenge is that these are the hottest months before the onset of the rains.
“Our appeal goes to those who always make a lot of noise claiming to love wildlife more than we do, to have a look at the crisis we are facing because of lack of water. Animals migrate to human settlements where they kill people as they compete for food and water,” said Mr Farawo.
Last month a 70-year-old villager from Jambezi in the same district was also killed by elephants while herding cattle.
Robert Chindomote’s fractured body was found following a search in the bush by rangers, police and villagers. Communities living near national parks have appealed for measures to control movement of wildlife to save lives and property. The Chronicle