Chipinge villagers welcome Human-Wildlife Conflict relief fund
By Artwel Sithole
THE announcement in early November 2022by the cabinet of Zimbabwe that it has setting up a fund which shall cater for Human-Wildlife Conflict has been received positively by most villagers in Chipinge.
These villagers have been enduring decades and decades of Human-Wildlife Conflict. Most of them lost lives as wildlife left behind a trail of untold destruction.
Human-Wildlife Conflict has been rife in Chipinge district owing to its possession of Zimbabwe’s longest waterway, Save River. Most conflict have emanated from humns sharing the Save River resource with wildlife.
Wild animals have killed more than 20 people in Chipinge with 4 of them having been from Chibuwe village, which is in Chipinge rural ward 20. The biggest concerns from the past then were the fact that there was no compensation to the victims. Most of the funerals involving victims were a sorry sight with families unable to decently burry the remains of their family members.
Now that there is a statute that can be referred to, stakeholders are hopeful that this policy shall be implemented without any room for corruption.
The central government has promised to work through the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZIMPARKS) to achieve the objectives of the new policy.
Activities lined up for communities include conservation education in the use of barriers, trans-location, sterilisation and selective culling of wildlife. There will also be an approved hunting quotas and fencing to restrict and control the movement of wildlife.
The establishment of the relief fund is aimed at cushioning the victims of Human-Wildlife Conflict by way of funeral assistance, hospitalisation and medical treatment. The monetary support will cover three categories such as death, maiming and injuries.
Chipinge rural ward 20 councilor, Mr Charles Mugidho, applauded government for considering and approving the establishment of the Human-Wildlife Conflict relief fund.
“Human-Wildlife Conflict is a thorn in the flesh for Chipinge rural ward 20 residents. We have lost four people to death with several other farmers losing tones of ready-to-harvest maize, wheat and beans which were destroyed by wild animals,” he said.
Mugidho went further to express that, if the relief fund is implemented properly, it will go a long way in resolving some of the silent conflicts affecting the families of the victims.
Another farmer, a Mr Mashava from Chibuwe Irrigation Scheme, lamented the loss he incurred when his ready-to-harvest beans which was destroyed by elephants.
“Elephants from Save Valley Conservancy crossed Save River into our irrigation scheme and destroyed eight acres of beans. It was painful but we had nowhere to get compensation. The local Agricultural Extension Officers recorded our losses. I pray that the recently gazetted relief fund will assist us to claim in retrospect,” he said.
Platform for Youth and Community Development (PYCD), a grassroots based organisation operating in Chipinge is doing well in raising awareness on such matters. Their advocacy has been rewarded through the establishment of Chibuwe-Mutema Communal Areas management Programme for Indigenous resources (CAMPFIRE) project.
PYCG director, Mr Claris Madhuku said: “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.”
Platform for Youth and Community Development 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 and wildlife conflict in the country.