September 5, 2021
The Zimbabwe National Parks says it is struggling to contain an unprecedented influx of elephants in human settlements in the Midlands province due to overpopulation of game in the country.
Zimparks National Spokesperson Tinashe Farawo in an interview said elephants are encroaching in human settlements in search of food.
“These are the issues we always say that our animals are overpopulated. We are having wild animals, including elephants are encroaching in human settlements in search of food and water. We are likely going to experience problems as we move into the drier months of the year. As we move into September and October until the outset of the rainy seasons we are going to experience more human wildlife conflicts,” Farawo said.
The situation of stray elephants have been reported in some parts of Shurugwi, Gokwe North and Kwekwe.
In Gokwe North elephants have been escaping from Chirisa, Chizarira and Nyaminyanyami Rural District Council.
“We have 12 elephants in the constituency. They were 13 and the Department of National Parks shot one to scare them away. However, they are still roaming the area although we initially thought after the death of one of them, they would go back, which did not happen as per their nature,” Shurugwi South MP Edmund Mukaratigwa said in an interview.
Mukaratigwa said every year at least three elephants cross through a certain path and then go back through the same route to nearby national parks.
“ It is better that the Wild Life Department personnel were deployed on time to control crowds of people as well as to ensure that in their crowds, they remained conscious that there is the COVID-19 pandemic in the country. Children and the old were there to see the elephants. Yesterday after the department had removed the key parts of the elephant as per the government procedures, people shared the meat and the police was deployed thereto, to ensure order and to avert human conflict,” he said.
He added that the number of elephants which crossed through the community had tripled.
“This year, the number of elephants is just too much and that has drawn the attention of many people in the area. The District Coordinator has been very active in the whole process and we are happy that people are safe. We are nevertheless advising people to keep away from the elephants because wild animals can actually be very dangerous to human being especially where people upsets them,” he said.
In Kwekwe a man was trampled to death by elephants.
“There was an unfortunate incident in Kwekwe were someone was trampled to death by an elephant. Its very unfortunate that another life has been lost,” Farawo said before adding that National Parks rangers are on the ground to deal with stray elephants in Midlands.
“We are encouraging our communities to stay away from wild animals. We are also encouraging our communities to minimise movements at night. They must make sure the animals are comfortable and not try to corn them because the moment the animals are uncomfortable they will definitely attack,” he said.
In Gokwe two lives were lost in the elephant attacks.
“One of the challenges being faced by the district is the human and wildlife conflict. Elephants are straying from Chirisa, Chizarira and Nyaminyami Rural District Council. They are pouncing on people so far we have lost two lives. This is a situation which is very deplorable,” Gokwe North District Development Coordinator Stewart Gwatirinda said.