The Sunday News
Thobekile Khumalo, Business Reporter
TRADITIONAL leaders in human-wildlife conflict hotspots in Matabeleland region are calling on the Government to intervene in the administration of Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (Campfire) so as to ensure local communities benefit from the revenue generated at the country’s wild animals sanctuaries.
Speaking at a conference organised by Sibanye Animal Welfare and Conservancy (SAWC) in Bulawayo on Friday, Chief Khulumani Mathema of Wenlock in Gwanda District said most communities were no longer partaking in wildlife conservation activities due to lack of incentives for participating in such a cause. The conference was held under the theme: “The role of community in human wildlife conflict”.
“The reason why locals will never have the zeal to conserve wildlife, especially the endangered species is solely because of the fact that they are not benefiting anything from these parks while at the same time they are the ones running losses when there is human and wildlife conflict. People’s crops are being destroyed, livestock killed and even lives lost without compensations rendered,” he said.
Chief Mathema said the relationship between the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority (ZimParks) and communities situated around national parks was strained largely due to the standing policy, which he deemed to be skewed against humans.
“As locals we are calling upon the Government to renew the laws or rather Acts that are there because these only protect animals and not humans. This is evident because there is an outcry when a human being kills an animal but when it happens vice-versa no one cares,” he said.
Speaking at the same event, the Member of Parliament for Norton, Mr Temba Mliswa, said the country’s constitution stipulates that communities should benefit from resources within their areas.
“Section 13 (4) of the Constitution says the State must ensure that locals benefit from resources in their areas meaning that communities can manage their own affairs and further their development. In such instances there must be a trust received by chiefs from parks and wildlife authorities that goes towards developing communities in which these parks help to build schools and clinics,” he said.
Mr Mliswa said the country had no regulatory framework on human-wildlife conflict.
“The Government is so much focused on making profits from these (wildlife) places and tends to forget about people living there. However, the Ministry of Environment (Tourism and Hospitality Industry) was in the process of crafting a policy with a bias towards managing human and wildlife conflict. So that it can be reduced drastically and reviewing the Campfire programme and its benefit to communities,” he said.
Campfire is a Zimbabwean community-based natural resource management programme. It considers wildlife as a renewable natural resource while addressing the allocation of its ownership to indigenous peoples in and around conservation protected areas. It was initiated in 1989 by the Government as a programme to support community-led development and sustainable use of natural resources.
Campfire is managed through Rural District Councils who distribute contracts for safari hunting and tourism and allocate revenue to local wards.
An environmental lawyer from Kenya’s conservation organisation, Space for Giants, Mr Kato Wamambo said the East African country has taken a major stride in ensuring wildlife benefit both communities and the Government.
“In Kenya the government has managed to play a positive role in these conflicts by centralising ownership of wildlife parks so that both the Government and locals benefit from wildlife revenue. The Government along with well-wishers have set up a national wildlife scheme to compensate those that are affected by human-wildlife conflicts,” he said.
SAWC director Mr Alfred Sihwa said: “Human wildlife is a major concern and that needs to be attended to as a matter of urgency to save species”.