Youth urged to lead conservation efforts to promote co-existence with wildlife in Zimbabwe
Leonard Ncube, Online Reporter
YOUNG people including school children, especially in communities adjacent to game parks, should be at the forefront of conservation work to build a resilient and sustainable co-existence with animals.
This was said by Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Moyo in a speech that was read on his behalf by a representative from his office, Mr Mthethwa at the Environment Minister’s annual engagement on environment, climate and wildlife with traditional leaders and community in Mabale, Hwange in Matabeleland North.
The engagement was addressed by Environment, Climate and Wildlife Minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu who is on a countrywide tour of communities adjacent to national parks to engage affected citizens as the Second Republic seeks to find ways of addressing human-wildlife conflict.
Children, youths and women are the worst affected by conflict as the heavy presence of animals disturbs movement to school, and community activities while women also encounter wild animals while fetching water and firewood.
The Government is engaging communities to listen to villagers on their concerns and how they wish the issues to be addressed.
Minister Moyo said the visit gave the community confidence that the Second Republic under the leadership of President Mnangagwa is making sure that no one and no place is left behind.
“We are so much blessed that you chose Hwange as one of the priority sites. Such a gesture is a clear testimony of promoting an open dialogue with communities to nurture a common understanding for a harmonious coexistence with wildlife. Matabeleland North is a wildlife zone and through cohabiting with animals many communities have lost property and lives.
“The province continues to encourage co-existence, awareness and sensitisation meetings as a key action to implementing and benefits realised by the community. This will also nurture the community to realise the importance of co-existence targeting school children so that we have a sustainable tomorrow, women youths and traditional leaders. So we need to see more young children being at the forefront of our natural resources management,” said Minister Moyo.
He said the human-wildlife conflict in the province has not only affected livelihoods but also human life.
With elephant population having grown by more than 10 000 since 2016 to over 65 000 in the giant Hwange National Park, conflict has risen as various predators invade communities in search of food and water.
Elephants, lions, hyenas, crocodiles, buffaloes, jackals, baboons, and wild dogs are the most problematic animals in Hwange, Tsholotsho, Lupane, Binga and Bubi districts,
Villagers have lost dozens of livestock while some have been injured or killed.
In some communities villagers hardly harvest from their fields as wild animals destroy crops.
Last year the Ministry of Environment hosted an international wildlife conference in Mabale in recognition of the importance of the area in wildlife conservation.
Minister Moyo said the engagements by the Government will help map a holistic approach and coexistence that will benefit both animals and humans.
He commended efforts being made by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, Forestry Commission, local authorities, and other partners such as the International Fund for Animal, Painted Dog Conservation, Wildcru and others in wildlife conservation.
“Despite challenges regarding human-wildlife conflict, we appreciate the efforts from Zimparks and other partners,” he said.
Painted Dog Conservation has started several conservation programmes in Mabale and Dete areas while Ifaw has invested millions of money for conservation work in communities around Hwange.
Environment Minister Ndlovu said Government is committed to making sure human-wildlife conflict is addressed and communities realise value from natural resources around them.