DISTURBING HUMAN-WILDLIFE CONFLICTS

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HUMAN-WILDLIFE conflict has always resulted in undesirable impact on people or their resources, or wild animals including their habitat.

The conflict takes many forms, ranging from loss of life or injury to humans and animals, both wild and tamed, to competition for limited resources and dilapidation of the environment.

The reported crocodile attack on two women of Mandenga village of Chirundu district, who are now nursing serious wounds in a local hospital after they went fishing on Zambezi River over the weekend, is a typical example of wildlife-human conflict which calls for meticulous evaluation.

This is important because there is need to find a better approach to the problem especially through better behavioural change and controlling interaction between the two.

It has also been reported that competition between man and wild animals for food and water in the fringes and habitat fragmentation are the two main causes of man-animal conflict in Zambia and indeed many parts of Africa.

The issue therefore needs to be resolved sincerely if animals, such as crocodiles, elephants, hyenas, hippos and other wild animals, which have always been in the news for attacking people, are to be saved from being killed by humans in retaliation.

Like in the reported Chirundu issue, the two women met their fate at the weekend after they went fishing at a place known as Zambala on Zambezi River which is also the home of the marauding reptiles.

The attacks were confirmed by Chirundu Town Council secretary John Mwanza and District commissioner Mr Alfred Tom Hamunjo who visited the two victims currently admitted to Mtendere Mission Hospital and reported to be in stable condition.

Zambala is on the banks Zambezi River, and due to the heat in Chirundu district, people repeatedly ignore the warning that the place is highly infested with crocodiles, resulting in some people being killed by crocodiles at the spot in recent past.

So who is to blame? The women who invaded the crocodile terrain or the crocodiles for their stroppy unwarranted attack?

Finding fair and balanced solution to the problem will not be easy and cannot come soon because as human populations expand into wild animal habitats, natural wildlife territory is displaced, leading into serious conflicts.

It is also not a secret that the reduction in the availability of natural prey or food sources has led to wild animals seeking alternate sources created by humans resulting in perilous conflicts.

It would appear that competition for food resources also occurs when humans attempt to harvest natural resources such as fish and grassland pasture like it happened in Chirundu, resulting in fatal conflicts.

So, as long as growing human populations overlap with established wildlife territory, creating reduction of resources, these conflicts, sadly, appear to have come to stay.

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