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Wild Animals Destroy Good Cropping Yields In Mat North

Baboons in a maize field devouring planted crops. Image by Agronomist Nation

BY LIZWE SEBATHA | @The_CBNews | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | MAR 5, 2021

After a dry season, good cropping yields in Matabeleland North are at the mercy of wild animals.

LUPANE (The Citizen Bulletin) — Florence Moyo, a widow, aged 65, was expecting a bumper harvest until recently when wild animals stomped through her village in Malumba, Lupane district in Matabeleland North, devouring planted crops.
Situated in a province that is home to the Big Five and one of the country’s largest game parks, Hwange National Park, wildlife in Lupane are a celebrated foreign currency earner through tourism.
However, Moyo is not rejoicing after baboon crop raiders left her counting losses.

“That I was going to have a good harvest after the good rains was a given.”
Florence Moyo, a 65-year-old widow

Moyo, who is in despair after crop-raiding baboons harvested her maize field, is taking care of four of her grandchildren and had hoped not to solely depend on her children’s remittances from neighbouring South Africa.
For years, Moyo has been experiencing poor harvests as Lupane is a rural semi-arid area characterised by low rainfall.
“For the first time in years, I was hopeful of a bountiful harvest to take me through the next farming season with enough food to feed my family,” she says.
Baboons are not the only crop raiders causing devastation in the Lupane district.
Elephants, hyenas, lions, and other wildlife are stomping through villagers along Gwayi and Mbembesi rivers, destroying an expected good harvest after years of low rainfall.
Livestock has not been spared as wild animals have reportedly killed as many as 30 beasts, Chief Mabhikwa says.
“I receive reports every day of wildlife destroying crops and devouring livestock. The big cats have camped in human settlements causing destruction,” Mabhikwa said.
“As of yesterday, Sunday the 28th of February, we have 30 beasts that have been killed.
“What irritates villagers is that there seems to be no solution to control the movement of wildlife into human settlements. We appeal to the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) to mount trap cages to deal with the troublesome animals.”
Trap cages are designed and built for a lifetime of service.
A patented release and locking mechanism ensures that the trapped animal does not injure itself or escape.
Furthermore, non-target animals can be released unharmed or translocated to another area as nature conservation authorities require.
ZimParks spokesperson Tinashe Farawo blames the human-wildlife conflict on the overpopulation of animals. Farawo says they have received several reports of wildlife causing terror and destroying vegetation, and killing livestock.

“This is not isolated to Lupane alone. The biggest challenge that we are facing is an overpopulation of animals.”
Tinashe Farawo, Zimparks spokesperson

Farawo says the Hwange National Park, created in the 1930s for a maximum population of 15,000 elephants, now has approximately 45,000 to 50,000 jumbos.
“Which means this elephant population has exceeded its ecological carrying capacity,” he says, adding that ZimParks is continuing with activities such as trapping or killing problem animals.
The increase in wildlife population has been blamed on culling following the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which imposed a global ban on the ivory trade.
Alfred Sihwa, the director of the Lupane, based Sibanye Animal Welfare and Conservancy Trust, argues that conflicts could be solved by reviewing the Wildlife Act.

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“We need to also work on a way that preserves human rights but also look at the animal welfare aspect and tourism. We need an approach that is equally protective to human beings and wildlife, including land degradation,” Sihwa says.
“There must be a review of the Wildlife Act to ensure it has clauses to protect the communities. We also need a review of the Animal Welfare and Protection Unit to protect that wildlife as much as it protects the domestic animals.”
However, as human-wildlife conflict cases continue to be reported, some Lupane villagers are left counting losses to the crop-raiding animals.
“It’s so depressing because we had good rains; we planted vast tracts of land only for animals to destroy the crops,” Moyo says, adding that she fears being harmed by the animals.
It’s not clear how many hyenas; lions are dotted around her village.

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