VILLAGERS in Tsholotsho district, Matabeleland North have expressed concern over the ballooning population of lions, hyenas and jackals killing their livestock.
They said the population of elephants was also on the increase and they were destroying their crops.
This emerged during an engagement meeting between Environmental, Climate Change and Wildlife Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu and the Sipepa community last Friday.
Minister Ndlovu holds annual community engagements meetings on environment, forestry and wildlife to find out challenges facing communities.
Cases of human-wildlife conflict are on the increase across the country and Government is working on a basket of measures to address the problem.
Climate change-induced droughts have been identified as the major cause of conflict, especially in communities closer to game parks as wild animals particularly elephants, lions, buffaloes, hyenas and wild dogs, among others, stray into communities in search of food and water.
Human-wildlife conflict cases are rampant in Lupane, Binga, Hwange and Tsholotsho where villagers have lost cattle, goats, donkeys, crops and other properties while some people have been maimed or killed.
A total of 66 people were killed across the country in 2022 as people encroached into wildlife areas for various reasons or animals strayed into villages.
Mr Dumisani Nkomo told Minister Ndlovu that the number of wild animals was on the increase in Tsholotsho were killing their livestock.
“Wild animals like hyenas and jackals are killing our livestock here. We have been forced to keep our livestock in pens for the greater part of the day because of these wild animals. How can we have good co-existence with hyenas and jackals? These animals do not benefit us at all unlike elephants which can be sold for the benefit of the community,” he said.
Mr Msitheli Sibindi from Ward 4 in Dibutibu said lions are now so daring that they venture into their homesteads.
“What is of concern to us is that some of the lions attacking our livestock have collars which shows that they are being used for research. Can’t those who are doing research do something about them because Campfire has failed us,” he said.
Mr Sibindi said there is a need for a strong boundary fence to keep the wild animals away from communities.
“There should also be culling of these animals because the land cannot sustain them,” he said.
Mrs Florence Nkomo said she lost four cattle in January to lions and urged authorities to address the problem.
“For a long time, we did not mind hyenas and jackals because they did not give us problems but the situation has changed now because they are now coming to our kraals to kill our livestock. I lost four cattle last month to lions,” she said.
Councillor Gift Tshuma of Ward 4 said since the beginning of the year, 21 animals have been killed by wild animals.
“The greatest challenge is that even if you report to Campfire nothing happens. Our children walk long distances to school and with lions in the vicinity, we are now worried about their safety. Campfire must be capacitated us to respond to distress calls from villagers,” he said.
Mr Vusa Tshuma said he lost two cows to lions this year.
Minister Ndlovu said the greatest challenge facing the country in terms of wildlife management was the blanket ban on ivory and elephant trade by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
“I am troubled because the CITES treaty is now being used to dictate what countries like us which have animals can and cannot do by countries that do not have animals. We have a serious fight within CITES because through them we are not allowed to sell ivory of even animals that died of natural causes,” he said.
He said Zimbabwe has a stockpile of ivory from elephants and rhinos which can earn the country about US$500 million annually.