A suspected Zambian poacher was shot dead while three others escaped during gunfire exchange with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority rangers in the Hurungwe Safari area.

This comes at a time when human and wildlife conflict is on the increase in the area, as animals stray into human settlements while humans also encroach into wildlife areas.

The shooting incident occurred during the Christmas holiday when parks’ rangers encountered four suspected poachers, reportedly of Zambian nationality at the Nyamuomba sub-camp in the Rifa section of Marongora.

Exchange of gunfire ensued, resulting in one of the poachers being shot while the others managed to escape.

The rangers recovered a shot gun, a 303 rifle and an impala carcass.

The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority spokesperson Mrs Caroline Washaya-Moyo confirmed the incident.

“This happened when Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority rangers on patrol exchanged fire with four suspected Zambian poachers. The other three escaped,” she said.

Parks has expressed concern at the increase in instances of human and wildlife conflict that have seen wild animals including elephants, lions and cheetahs moving into human settlements.

In one of the incidents, an eight-month old baby was nearly attacked by cheetahs in the Bhatiti area of Chikombedzi in Chiredzi on December 23.

The child was playing at the family homestead and was only saved by elders who chased away the two cheetahs using axes, dogs and bayonets.

The community successfully managed to separate the two cheetahs, with one fleeing into Gonakudzingwa Farms while the other one, which had become aggressive was trapped in a tree, after killing a hen, said Mrs Washaya-Moyo.

After four hours, the same cheetah returned to the area and the community was left with no option but to kill it in order to save their lives.

Mrs Washaya-Moyo assured the community that her organisation will continue working with the community to ensure that their lives were not endangered.

At least two lions reportedly killed three cattle in Chigwite Village in the Save Valley Conservancy of Masvingo Province.-Herald