THERE is no denying that conflicts between people and animals are one of the main threats to the continued survival of many species of animals in different parts of the world, Zambia included.
It is also a noteworthy threat to local human populations as people continue to be killed especially by crocodiles, elephants, buffaloes, lions and many other wild animals.
What is also incontrovertibly distinct is that if solutions to conflicts are not sufficient, or found, even local support for wildlife conservation efforts may also decline.
Just how would you react to an elephant, hippo or a lion in your backyard or garden? Or indeed your child or brother killed by a pitiless crocodile?
We also know that as human populations expand and natural habitats shrink, people and animals will increasingly come into conflict over living space and food.
Year in year out people lose their crops, livestock, property, and sometimes their lives to wild animals.
Some of these animals, already threatened or endangered, are often killed in retaliation or to ‘prevent’ future conflicts.
Recently, this display has become a common feature in Chirundu of Lusaka Province where fishermen and women drawing water in the crocodile-infested Zambezi River have been maimed and killed.
Stray lions have also been reported on a number of occasions in Chirundu, where they have been cruelly devouring livestock. It has become almost a standard situation.
Today, we have a report of a 25-year-old fisherman of Chief Malama’s area in Mambwe district in Eastern Province who has died after being attacked by a crocodile in the Luangwa River.
This came to light when Chief Malama told Eastern Province Permanent Secretary Buleti Nsemukila who called on him at his palace.
Chief Malama named the victim as Limited Phiri who met his fate last Sunday as he was fishing in his boat.
The traditional leader explained that Mr Phiri was attacked by the reptile after his boat capsized.
Mr Phiri and many others fishi not only for the pot but also for wherewithal.
Chief Malama has since appealed to Government to quickly deploy hunters to help reduce the human-animal conflict in the area, which he said had reached disquieting levels.
He said his chiefdom had seen increased cases of animal attacks, especially in which elephants have destroyed crop fields and houses without compensation to the victims.
Chief Malama charged that officers from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife appeared disinclined to act when people are killed by animals but reacted with the speed of lightning when people kill animals.
We, however, give thumbs up to Dr Nsemukila who has called for an integrated approach in which local people and National Parks and Wildlife collaborate to empower people like teachers who work in GMAs with survival skills.
Dr Nsemukila says that would help in addressing the human-animal conflict which is presently a biggest threat in GMAs throughout Zambia.
Government, we think, should try to use scientific research for improved management outcomes, such as behaviour adjustment and reduction of contact.
This it should do to condense the potential for human-wildlife conflicts and protect people’s lives and improve security of animal populations.