By Kenneth Matimaire
Chipinge, August 25, 2016 – THE Minister of Environment, Water and Climate Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri has appealed to conservancies around the Save Valley Conservancy to erect standard security fencing in the area as a means to protect local community from stray wild animals causing havoc within local communities.
Muchinguri’s intervention came at a time when three villagers and 450 cattle were killed by wild beasts while crops worth over US$200,000 were destroyed.
Lions, buffaloes, wild dogs, rhinoceros and elephants are some of the wild predators wreaking havoc in the area.
Observers have blamed the crisis on some beneficiaries of government’s land reform programme which saw 11 Zanu PF politicians, among them government ministers in 2007 allocated wildlife licenses.
Since the process started some 16 years back, security fencing has been vandalised.
However, government later withdrew the licenses following pressure from wildlife activists.
Muchinguri said government was committed to ensuring the safety of the Chipinge community.
She said government will make sure that conservators erect a security fence and mobilise relevant stakeholders to beef up the security of both the villagers and their livestock.
“As government, we appeal to the conservators of the Save Valley Conservancy to do the honourable thing by way of ensuring the safety of human lives and that of their livestock.
“They are the custodians of the conservancy and it is their duty to ensure that they establish a security fence will demarcate private property from the villages so as to stop wild animals from endangering people.
“Also, as government, we are mobilising relevant stakeholders to help the community to build cattle pens that will make it difficult for lions to kill villagers’ livestock. We want to distribute flashlights that can be placed on cattle pens to scare away lions during the night,” she said.
Muchinguri’s visit comes after Platform for Youth Development Trust (PYD), a Chipinge based lobby group, petitioned Parliament last year over the need for government to tour the area and address the threat posed by wildlife.
PYD, in conjunction with the affected villagers, was peeved by the reluctance of relevant authorities to rectify the danger posed by wildlife on humans over the past decade.
PYD founder and director, Claris Madhuku said they hoped that Muchinguri’s visit will bring sanity to the human-wildlife crisis in Chipinge.
“We are committed to seeing a genuine and meaningful dialogue being instituted between the representatives of the affected communities and the conservators where government is the monitor.
“Our fear is that some elements in government need to be limited to policy implementation due to allegations of interference due to conflict of interest. In addition to the visit by Minister Muchinguri, we are still expecting the portfolio committee on Environment, Water, Tourism and Hospitality Industry to fulfil its visitation for a fact finding mission,” said Madhuku.