By Rodwell Mabungu & Sheron Mangisi
Proximity between Hwange National Park and the communities around Mabale area has given rise to the plethora of reasons associated with the human-wildlife conflict in the area.
This nearness has always caused the wild animals to stray into the communities to hunt.
We need to remember that domestic animals are an easy prey to predators like lions, hyenas and wild dogs. Other wild animals like baboons and elephants also invade fields and house holds. In areas like Mabale, there are no grazing areas which forces people to herd their livestock in forestry zone area, of which this area cannot be separated from the National Parks. This results in depredation.
However, there are a number of conservation organizations that work in collaboration with the national parks in mitigating this plight. For example, there’s Hwange Lion Research Project which has come up with three initiatives in an attempt to mitigate human-wildlife conflict though it particularly focuses on human-lion conflict.
In an interview with The Sun, historical researcher, Samson Gwedla said “This organization recruits, trains and employs Lion Guardians. These Lion Guardians are responsible for tracking and alerting the community members on stray lions that encroach into the communities. They can track through spores or using the GPS which captures the location of collared lions in the community”.
Hwange Lion Research Project has also donated mobile bomas which act as corrals or izibaya in which the community members can group together and enclose their livestock at night.
Mobile bomas are designed in such a way that they can scare away lions and also do not permit the livestock from escaping the corrals in the event of the presence of lions around the corral.
Hwange Lion Research also collars the lions so that they can be easily tracked. Other organizations such as The Painted Dog Conservation (PDC) also collars wild dogs for easy tracking. PDC has also donated cell phones in Mabale area so that the community members can easily alert them (PDC) in the event of stray wild dogs.
Furthermore, the Rural District Council through the Campfire project also deploys the scouts or anti-poaching team to scare away wild animals like elephants if they stray.
At times, these scouts can even shoot to kill the dangerous wild animals that pose danger to people.