CHIEFS have complained about lions and other animals that are wreaking havoc in Hwange District killing both people and livestock, disrupting farming activities.The chiefs and villagers told members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environment and Tourism that were on a fact finding mission in the district that the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority was failing to protect them from wild animals.
Villagers from Malaba and Jambezi areas also called on the government to dissolve the Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources since it was not benefiting them. Chief Shana said in Jambezi alone villagers had lost 640 cattle, 420 goats and countless pigs and chickens to lions and baboons.
“We’re suffering. We’re losing our people, domestic animals and crops to the problem animals. Please assist,” said the Chief.
Chief Nelukoba, who lost 16 goats, was among the villagers who expressed anger at the failure by the parks authority to manage the animals.
“We’re in a district that is rich with natural resources. But we can’t reach them,” said the chief.
He said engaging relevant ministries on the matter was proving to be difficult since they were always snubbed.
A villager Mabion Majolo said after losing a nephew to a lion, he did not get any compensation or assistance from parks or Campfire.
Another villager who identified herself as NaPride from village 16 under Chief Nelukoba said she lost all her goats and cattle to lions.
She called on the parliamentary committee to treat the matter seriously.
“This is a serious matter and we don’t want to be taken as fools or toys. We want results. We want fruitful meetings,” she said.
Songwa village head Brenda Mhlanga said she once witnessed a child being mauled by a lion on her way to school. She said for people on the ground, the human-animal conflict was a reality.
“We’re living with these animals and we’re suffering. We need help, we need urgent assistance,” she said.
A former headmaster, who identified himself only as Ndaba, said it was unfortunate that some people had abandoned farming because their yields were always destroyed by wild animals, especially elephants.
“Why should we engage in farming when we know that everything will be destroyed by the elephants? We don’t want to feed these animals while we starve,” he said.
Portfolio committee chairperson Anastancia Ndlovu said there was need to enact laws that made it mandatory for villagers to benefit from their natural resources.