A conflict is ensuing between communities along Save River in Chipinge and Save Valley Conservancy over stray animals that continue to wreck havoc, killing villagers’ livestock and destroying crops.
This has effectively resulted in a deadlock between community and conservancy owners with counter accusations stalling engagement processes.
Villagers accuse the conservancy owners of negligence while the conservators maintain that surrounding areas have been vandalizing security fencing resulting in wildlife animals skipping the conservancy into communities.
Villagers reported that over 450 livestock have been killed by lions to date with an estimated crop value of $200 000 (maize, beans, banana plantations and vegetables) being destroyed by elephants.
Unconfirmed reports also claim that three villagers were killed by lions and buffaloes from the conservancy.
Recently, a Mbaimbai family in BirchenoughBridge lost five cattle in one night with many other families in Manesa, Maunganidze, Maronga and Chibuwe having suffered the same fate.
According to villagers in the affected areas, lions come during the night to kill cattle causing great fear and panic among villagers.
The manner in which lions attack is very scaring since most villagers will be asleep therefore very difficult to protect themselves against these wild cats.
The lions have also been seen by school children in areas like Goko, Chipinda and Charuma leading to some parents having to accompany their children or totally withdrawing them from school for security concerns.
Councilor Edwin Mabika of ward 33 in Buhera South expressed worry that government efforts were missing in response to the distressed calls by villagers and this was a real concern.
Councilor Charles Mugidho of ward 20 in Musikavanhu constituency concurred with Mabika saying there was need for local stakeholders to be organized in their demand for a solution through government intervention.
“We challenge the Platform for Youth Development to facilitate a stakeholder approach to this wildlife and human conflict so that it is resolved at the level of the parliament of Zimbabwe. We have suffered enough with villagers losing their livestock and crops daily,” noted councilor Edwin Mabika.
This appeal by councilor Mabika has necessitated the intervention by Platform for Youth Development to engage parliament.
Platform for Youth Development has since written to the parliamentary committee on Environment, Water, Tourism and Hospitality to seek their intervention.
In its letter to parliament, PYD requested for a dialogue platform to receive more evidence to enable appropriate intervention on the matter that has continued to cause sleepless nights to the people of Chipinge west and Musikavanhu constituencies.
Another villager ,Catherine Vhutuza of Chibuwe expressed disgust that elephants were a daily menace in the Masimbe,Chisavanye and Chibuwe areas making it difficult for people to harvest their beans and crops an occurrence that has been taking place unhindered over a couple of years.
PYD is hopeful that engaging with parliament would be useful, having taken a similar approach to resolve a pending boundary conflict between Green fuel and the villagers of Chisumbanje and Chinyamukwakwa communities in Chipinge South.
“Engaging parliament is a positive move as this has been pushed more from the affected communities. We are taking a representative role that will involve all stakeholders .From our experience working with local communities,PYD is convinced this is a surest way to finding a lasting solution,” the organization’s Director, Claris Madhuku said.