COMPETITION for space between humans and wildlife has become a threat to both animals and forests, which are the backbone of the tourism industry, a top conservationist has said.
Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) Director General Fulton Mangwanya said this problem needed to be urgently addressed.
“Today, due to the ever-growing population in Africa and the whole world, we have noted with concern the competition for space between humans and wildlife,” Mangwanya said.
“As a result, landscapes are increasingly fragmented hence disrupting [the] free movement of wildlife, leading to more frequent human-wildlife conflicts,” he said.
Mangwanya was addressing delegates and stakeholders at the Mid-Zambezi Region Chiefs’ Biodiversity Conservation Indaba in Kariba on Friday.
He said the conflict between humans and animals had been exacerbated by destructive actions such as the cutting down of forests, and unplanned and uncontrolled veld fires, which badly affected wildlife’s habitat.
“Our tourism is wildlife based hence the need to guard jealously our heritage for the present and future generations. The traditional leaders and Local Authorities are the planners and drivers for rural development through Community Based Natural Resources Programmes (CBNRM).
“As a country, Zimbabwe is endowed with rich biological diversity and is one of the world’s torch bearers when it comes to [the] conservation of wildlife and other natural resources. This, of course, is strongly supported by the socio-economic benefits which are closely linked to our philosophy of sustainable conservation,” Mangwanya said.
Chief Negande, Nkawuso Mpofu, said chiefs were the custodians of natural resources and heritage, hence they were expected to benefit through wildlife.
“We are the custodians of the wildlife as traditional leaders hence we expect to benefit from them,” said the traditional leader.
The indaba, organised with support from the African Wildlife Foundation, was called to share experiences on the status quo of human and wildlife conflicts, explore challenges faced in resource protection as well as share information on emerging issues in biodiversity conservation.
– CAJ News