By Artwell Sithole
Chipinge villagers have welcomed the government’s decision to establish a human-wildlife conflict relief fund meant to assist victims with medical and funeral expenses.
The government has established a relief fund to cushion victims of human-wildlife conflict through medical expense assistance and in the worst-case scenario, where death occurs, funeral assistance.
This year alone, as of August 2022, 46 Zimbabwean lives have been lost to human-wildlife conflict, with the most affected being Mashonaland West Province, where 19 people were killed, mostly in Kariba.
In Chipinge wild animals have over the years killed over 20 people with four of them coming from Chibuwe village in Musikavanhu constituency.
Ward 20 councilor, Charles Mugidho applauded the government for the fund which he said will go a long way in helping victims get medication.
“Human – wildlife conflict is a thorn in the flesh in ward 20.4 people have been killed in my ward with several farmers losing tones of ready to harvest maize, wheat and beans destroyed by wild animals,” he said.
A Chibuwe farmer Mr Mashava told 263Chat that he is hopeful the fund will also cater for losses incurred by farmers as a result of wildlife animals straying into communal land.
“Elephants from Rodger Gamepark in Humani area crosses Save river into our irrigation scheme AND destroyed 8 acres of beans .It was painful but we had nowhere to place our complains. The local Agricultural Extension Officers have received statistics of our loss. I pray the recent gazetted relief fund will assist us to claim in retrospect,” said Mashava.
Platform for Youth and Community Development (PYCD), a grassroots based organization operating in Chipinge has also welcomed the cabinet decision saying it builds on the work they have been doing including the setting up of Chibuwe-Mutema CAMPFIRE project.
‘’We welcome the announcement by the cabinet of Zimbabwe to compensate the victims of human and wild life conflict. This development makes our advocacy easier as we seek to ensure that there is coexistence between human beings and animals with victims being compensated” the organization’s Director Claris Madhuku reiterated.
PYCD is currently implementing a project together with Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association (ZELA) to promote the harnessing of indigenous knowledge systems as a measure to reduce human-wildlife conflict in the country.