Safety of women in jeopardy as animals, humans coexist – MP

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Report by Thandeka Matebesi

The beginning of 2020 brought sad news to Deka Village in Lupane, Matebeleland North as an elderly woman (81) succumbed to an elephant attack.

Women in a patriarchal society being associated with much responsibility and chores, their security has become Lupane West’s MP, Martin Khumalo worry as wildlife is a common feature in this area.

“I understand an elderly lady died from an elephant attack this year. Sad it is! It is sad considering that these wild animals have barely attacked humans as lions usually target domesticated animals while elephants are known for destroying crops.

“What is worrying though is safety of women who are in most cases tasked with household chores to be fetching water, firewood and school visits among others. They are at risk in these communities where wildlife and humans co-habitate,” Khumalo said.

Further expressing concern, Khumalo pleaded with the Parks and Wildlife department to come up with lasting solutions that ensures safety against wild animals which are a common scene in this area.

“Wildlife being a common scene are usually shot on sight once we report cases mainly those that involve attacks on livestock and destruction of crops. However, this has not dealt enough with the danger of people co-habituating with wild animals. A lasting solution is needed,” Khumalo added.

Contacted for a comment Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority (ZIMPARKS) spokesperson, Tinashe Farawo said the authority was well aware of the challenges facing people in Lupane.

He also said that efforts were underway to depopulate such areas where human and wildlife conflict was common in order to ensure the safety of the people, especially women.

“We acknowledge that there is a problem and the safety of people is an area of concern. I can tell you that this is a national problem and we are doing our best to deal with it. Apart from awareness campaigns we are working on depopulating such areas as Lupane where human and wildlife conflict is rife just as we did in 2018 in other parts of the country,” said Mr Farawo.

He added: “above all we encourage people to contact us as soon as there is a problem with animals and we always try our best to reach the site as soon as we can even during this lockdown. However, most of the time the animals would have either inflicted the damage or moved”.

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