Nineteen people living in communities adjacent to game reserves have been killed by wild animals so far this year, thereby highlighting the worsening human-wildlife conflict, according to the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks).
Zimparks spokesperson Mr Tinashe Farawo told The Sunday Mail that 40 percent of the deaths resulted from being trampled by elephants.
Last year, 20 people were killed, a decline from 40 in 2017.
In the latest case a fortnight ago, two minors aged four and two years were attacked by a pack of hyenas in Kanyemba, Mashonaland Central.
One minor was killed while another is still missing.
Mr Farawo said the minors were left at home when their parents went to collect food aid from the local distribution centre.
“The attack took place when the children decided to follow their parents who had taken long to return, it was getting dark,” he said.
“When the parents got back, they could not locate the two minors. That is when a search party was formed. The two-year-old’s head and her clothing items were discovered the following morning.
“We were then called in and we established that they had been attacked by hyenas. lnvestigations are still underway.
“Our partners have deployed helicopters on a search mission but it has been more than a week now,” Mr Farawo said.
Hundreds of people, he added, have also been injured in similar attacks, while thousands of livestock have been lost.
“A total of 19 people have been killed by wild animals since January this year, while one remains unaccounted for after an attack by a pack of hyenas last week,” said Mr Farawo.
“These were all in human settlements, where animals would have moved from protected areas.
“Our animals have exceeded their ecological capacity and that is why they are encroaching into human settlements.
“The drought has made the situation even worse, the animals go into human settlements in search of water and food.”
The animals also destroy crops and livestock.
Sustainable management practices, which allow countries to benefit from their wildlife, could go a long way in preventing the current conflict in areas with significant animal population, he said.
“We want people to benefit from wildlife, we want to create jobs, that is why we must be allowed to trade some of these animals.