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Provincial Newspapers Pungwe News

Chipinge Villagers Seek Compensation For Crop, Livestock Damage


Sharon Chigeza

MUTARE – Affected communities near Save Conservancy in Chipinge are seeking compensation for the economic losses incurred after their crops and livestock were damaged or lost to wildlife invasions in past weeks.

Villagers said seeking compensation is the proactive step towards addressing human-wildlife conflict issues in the area.

They argued that economic losses including the emotional cost of these conflicts are significantly affecting household incomes and food security in the area.

“Depending on their movement, elephants can move in a herd. A single raid by these jumbos has devastating effects on crops and at times livestock. Those with plots in the irrigation schemes suffer significant economic losses as they depend on horticulture and fresh green maize markets for sustenance,” said Itai Mtetwa, a farmer in Chipinge.

Mtetwa said crop destruction by wildlife impacts household food security and cash income which is why compensation is required.

“We have suffered quite a lot and it is not only elephants that have given us sleepless nights. We have other wild animals such as buffaloes and hyenas that have wreaked havoc in our communities causing irreversible damages. These damages cause major economic drawbacks and it is only sensible that communities are compensated in order to move on with life,” said another villager.

Chipinge Rural District Council Ward 20 Councillor Addmore Mabika said plans to establish a communal area management programme for indigenous resources in the affected area is underway.

He said the programme aims to ensure that the community benefits from the conservancy through revenue sharing and joint decision making.

The recent surge in wildlife-human conflict has left villagers living in constant fear. Elephants are the primary culprits, raiding fields and devouring crops, destroying villagers’ livelihoods. In some instances, livestock has also been killed by marauding elephants.

The economic impact of these attacks is substantial. Subsistence farmers have lost their entire season’s harvest, leaving them facing food insecurity.

The loss of livestock adds another layer of hardship, depriving families of a source of income and protein.

The Government is working to mobilise money to bankroll the Human-Wildlife Relief Fund to start compensating families and communities affected by wild animals.

The fund, to be used to support affected families and communities, as well as come up with programmes that help reduce deaths caused by animals, will cover funeral assistance, hospitalisation and treatment for those maimed and injured.

With the continued increase in wildlife population, especially elephants, cases of human-wildlife conflict have become prevalent mainly in areas near game parks like in Chipinge, Chimanimani, Marange, Buhera in Manicaland, Hwange, Tsholotsho, Binga, Lupane, Bubi in Matebeleland North and Gonarezhou in the Lowveld.

Beyond compensation, villagers are calling for long-term solutions, such as Improved fencing around wildlife sanctuaries whereby authorities erect stronger barriers between protected areas and communal lands to prevent wild animals from straying into villages and destroying crops.

They have also called for the raising of awareness about co-habitation strategies and deterrents to keep wildlife at bay, strategies which can empower villagers to protect their crops and livestock.

Providing income diversification opportunities for villagers living near wildlife sanctuaries can also reduce their dependence on agriculture in areas with high human-wildlife conflict.

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