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Animal Conflict with Humans

David Youldon


Conflict with humans is a major problem across much of Africa as wildlife becomes increasingly confined to ever smaller areas. In Victoria Falls town centre it is not uncommon to have to wait for an elephant or herd of buffalo to move out of the way before being able to enter the infamous bar at Shoestrings or get to the door of the local post office. On the outskirts of town lions are taking the livestock of rural communities; most probably pushed to do so by a decreasing prey base within the Zambezi National Park.

From Victoria Falls to Hwange and across the border to the areas surrounding the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park and Dambwa Forest elephants are coming out of the Bush to raid crops and damage property.

In places where these animals need to be conserved it is difficult to marry wildlife management practices to the needs of the communities living with these animals that view them as nothing more than pests and habitat as something to be used, not cherished.

No amount of education alone will convince a farmer struggling to feed his family that an elephant that destroys his annual crop in one night, or a lion, hyena or leopard that preys upon his goat herd should be dealt with by anything less than a bullet.

Key to our approach in conservation is encouraging African solutions to African problems. As such, we have instigated a forum to facilitate the communities of Victoria Falls and surrounding areas to start to deal with the challenges that face them. Through education we hope to encourage a greater understanding of the economic benefits to them of conserving wildlife, but it will only be through developing conservation programs in line with their priorities and with their full involvement that any lasting solutions will be found.

Over the border in Zambia this month we will see the commencement of our elephant study. Following IUCN guidelines we will be looking to understand better the use of the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park by the species. From this we hope to be able to improve management of elephants within the Park as well as enhance conflict mitigation measures for the surrounding communities.

This past month we made our first sighting of a lion in the Zambezi National Park, a large, lone male. Our continuing study here is looking at all the large predators providing data for own research as well as passing results on to other NGO’s to assist with their studies. African Wild Dogs have moved into the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. Wild Dogs have the highest hunting success rate of any of Africa’s predators and as such, further conflict with communities is inevitable. It may be a race against time to understand how this species is functioning within the Park before they are shot or poisoned by disgruntled farmers, but we are now in urgent talks with ZAWA – the Zambian Wildlife Authority – to track these amazing animals to learn as much as we can from them before it’s too late.

Our latest newsletter is now available for download at http://www.lionalert.org/Newsletter%20March%2009.pdf featuring:

• 17-month-old Sahara has joined her brother and sister, Sango and Swahili, by making her first kill...

• In Zambia the first kill at stage one in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park came on the 5th March...

• ALERT and the Africa Centre for Holistic Management: On the 12th February we held our first public meeting as the commencement of joint projects…

• Jana’s Marathon diary …

• Lion fact file: Africa vs Asia…

• The last roar: Press release issued jointly by ALERT (Zambia), Lion Encounter (Zambia) Lion Encounter (Zimbabwe) and Antelope Park…


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