Senator Timveos Debates Problems at Hwange National Park

Tuesday, 23rd June, 2015
The Senate met at Half-past Two O’clock pm.
(MADAM PRESIDENT in the Chair)
SENATOR NYATHI: I move the motion standing in my name That this House –
CONCERNED by the overpopulation of elephants in the Hwange National Parks;
DISTURBED by the violation of the security of humans by the animals;
FURTHER CONCERNED that Government protects these animals at the expense of humans;
ALARMED by the destruction of ploughing fields, grazing areas for domestic animals and threat to humans which is yet to be addressed:
NOW, THEREFORE, calls upon Government to protect the people in the surrounding areas by re-fencing the National Parks area and adopt measures to reduce these animals to a sizeable and manageable herd.
+SENATOR NYATHI: I would like to debate on the high number of wild animals in the Hwange National Parks. This problem is caused by the fact that we no longer have a fence which used to separate human beings from the animals. What is really surprising is that when this protective fence was removed, there were no investigations made to locate its whereabouts. This is despite the fact that a fence is something durable. If thorough investigations had been done, this fence could have been found and used again to protect people from wild animals. This fence had been in place for quite some time, protecting people from these wild marauding animals. We think there is a conflict between human beings and animals near the Hwange National Park. There are
now lots of elephants which are straying into homesteads and fields and this is a problem. In Hwange, people have problems with animals.
When you look at Jambezi and Tshenamisa, in 2010, a person was killed by these wild animals and another person was killed when he was guarding his field and protecting it from these wild animals. People were of the opinion that if they go and guard their fields, the animals would not stray into their fields. What is of concern is that the starvation being faced by people in Hwange, in the Jambezi area, is not because of lack of rain but it is because of these wild animals which are killing people’s cattle. If we have enough grain, people will not starve; they will have enough food to eat. Now, the people in those areas are stranded because they do not know where to go or where to seek assistance. We have some other areas, especially where I come from in Dete, where there are lions that come into homesteads and they are so daring that they even get into kraals. In 2007, they broke into my sister’s kraal and killed three cattle. We are pleading with the Government, the National Parks and Wild Life to take steps to protect
them. People need to be protected from these wild animals. We have people who are going about their duties and children who go to school.
A lion is a very shy animal. When it sees you, it will turn away and go its own way but because they are now so many in this area, they have lost respect for man and they can attack any time. At one time, in 2014, they even attacked a young child who had been sent on an errand. What is worrying the electorate is, we seem to be of the opinion that the animals in Hwange National Parks, in Matabeleland North, now have more respect and dignity than human beings because they are protected better than human beings who can be attacked by these animals and nothing happens to them.
I am happy because we have traditional leaders in this Senate. There are people who live in Hwange and travel to Victoria Falls. We talk about the roads on which we travel. We used to have sign posts along main roads and these sign posts will be telling the people where animals can be found. There is a certain man who was travelling in May 2014, from Bulawayo going to Victoria Falls. He had a tyre puncture.
He had to get out of the car and start changing the wheel at the 5km peg on his way to the Safari Lodge. I am not sure about what happened. There was a lorry which was coming from Bulawayo and it hit the lion. The man stopped his lorry, reversed and asked the man whether he was aware of the dangers surrounding him. When the man looked from where he was repairing his car, he saw that a lion had been knocked down by the lorry. The cause of the problem is that sign posts have not been put in that area. This motorist would have known that there is such danger in that place.
When you travel from here to Masvingo, there is need for sign posts on the road. They will tell you of the dangers on each part of the road. In my area, we met with the villagers and talked about what was happening and I am of the belief that if this motorist had known that this area was infested with dangerous wild life, he would have taken precautions to protect himself. He did not know because there was no sign post. My plea is, may our Government please know that lions are very dangerous and that the lions attack anybody when they are hungry.
When people go to holiday resorts or for camping, they should be careful. There are lions, leopards and any other dangerous animals in these areas. When we are talking of protecting people, we are not only talking about the people in Hwange but all the people of Zimbabwe because you can visit that place and be devoured by these lions.
We have a very big problem. Some people may seem to think that this is a small problem. We have an animal which is called a baboon. People who stay in Hwange know that the animal called baboon is a menace. You do not grow vegetables and fruits. We have areas like the ZRP, Baobab, Chibondo and DRC. In these residential areas, you do not open windows of your house, you have to keep your doors locked as if you are at Chikurubi Maximum Prison. I am telling you the truth because if you get into your home and you do not lock, these baboons get into the house and attack you.
People who visit Hwange do not know that we have these dangerous animals, which are a menace. I sympathise greatly with visitors who know nothing about the behavior of wild animals in
Hwange and visit these places and they believe that they have to breathe some fresh air. That area is very hot. When you want to open your window or door in Hwange, make it a point that you do not leave that window or door open because the baboon or monkey will walk in. The weather in Hwange is very hot and arid, you need to ventilate your rooms by opening doors and windows. I have a friend of mine who works for a company called Bulamanzi. When they came to the place they would leave their windows open and go about their work. One thing interesting about baboons is that when they get into the house, they are so adventurous. They will open doors of fridges, stoves and even sleep on the bed. These animals are so cunning that when they see a woman, especially in a dress, they do not care. They will challenge and stare at the woman until she reverses. They are only afraid of men. When the baboon gets into a house and you make a noise calling for assistance from neighbours, if they see that they are only women who are coming, they are so stubborn that they simply look at the women and go about their business of wrecking havoc in that home. Therefore, we are pleading with the powers that be. We want to be free in our houses,
we want to breathe fresh air. We give out some gases which we have to remove when we open the windows. These baboons have lice and ticks and when they get into your home, they roll onto your blankets, carpet and sofas and infest your home with those lice.
We are noticing that these animals are a menace. You cannot grow vegetables in the area. As a result, the vegetables are very expensive, three leaves of vegetables cost a dollar, so how far can you go and how much does a family need. If you grow some seeds, they have a way of sniffing out those seeds, pick out the seeds and eat them. That is why I said in areas adjacent to national parks, wild animals are more protected and have more privileges than human beings.
We also have crocodiles which are infesting our rivers near residential areas. There is one crocodile which has grown so big and nothing is being done about it. At one time I called the national park officers and showed them the crocodile. When I get to that place, I always ask them about the crocodile. It will end up killing someone. It is so big and I told them, this animal is going to kill some people and
children. I do not know, I stand to be guided, why is it that when people are crying for help, asking for help from the powers that be, why is it that the Government does not come to their assistance and help its people eradicate these marauding and menacing animals?
The problem with these marauding animals is not at Hwange only; it is also in Victoria Falls or any other area where there is wildlife. We have traditional chiefs, let us support our people. This is going to affect our manpower development because if people are transferred into these areas they do not want to live in these areas because they will be told that it is unsafe to even open their windows. These baboons are so daring, they are like human beings; let me say they are human beings, because they will come at the door, which is closed and they try to open it. I remember some time back when I was inside the house, I felt that someone was opening the door, but from what was happening, I could tell that this was not a human being but a baboon. Surely, when I opened, there was a very big baboon and it ran away. Now, we are asking the Government, the Ministry responsible, please we are
appealing, we are pleading, we need your assistance, and we need to be protected. Why do animals have more dignity and protection than human beings? We are suffering, we are living a life of imprisonment in our houses, they are leaving dirt and they are even leaving diseases. I thank you.
SENATOR TIMVEOS: Thank you Madam President. I feel privileged to be debating this very important motion. I stand in support of this motion aimed at bringing sanity and peaceful co-existence between people and animals in the vicinity of Hwange National Parks. Hwange National Parks is Zimbabwe’s biggest park, occupying nearly 15000m2. It is now part of the vast and potentially lucratively Kavango.
Madam President, it is now part of the fast and potential lucrative Kavango- Zambezi or Kaza Frontier conservation area spanning five countries namely, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, Namibia and Angola. This was after the Zimbabwean Government agreed to ratify the Kaza Treaty early in June 2015. However, of late, there have been serious
conflicts in that area between people and animals as well as criminals and law enforcement authorities.
Mr. President, I am reliably informed that a few people have died recently in incidents involving elephants. On the animal side, hundreds of elephants and other animals have been killed through cyanide poisoning , shooting and other horrific methods used by poachers. Mr. President, in terms of tourism, Hwange National Park generates a significant amount of business for the country, especially because of the location which is close to Victoria Falls.
The biggest problem in the Hwange area is that communities are not stakeholders. Of all the hunting which is taking place there, the only people who are benefiting are the safari operators. What the locals do not understand is that when foreign hunters come, they kill the animals and take trophies. However, when they kill the animals for food, they are sent to prison. That is why sometimes you find some people with criminal minds poisoning the animals as what was witnessed recently. That conflict caused by such inequities must be addressed. For instance,
some fences were run down in Hwange National Park and this has created problems for humans. Therefore, Government should actually look at these fences which have broken down and make efforts to repair them so that animals can stay within the park and do not mix with humans.
We also have a problem of not having accurate statistics. The last official statistical research was done in 1997. This has created a serious management problem for ZIMPARKS because you cannot manage resources whose existence you do not know. In the media, some people have claimed that there are as many as 53 thousand elephants in Hwange and some reliable sources estimate that the figure is less than 20 thousand. Therefore, there is need for proper records so that as a country, we know how many elephants and other animals we have at Hwange National Parks.
We also need to capacitate ZIMPARKS to enable it to carry out its mandate of effectively managing our animals in Hwange. If we have excess animals, which cannot be culled, why not move them to Angola
or Botswana or any other neighbouring country. Mr. President, we need to review the policy of hunting inside the park and explore other fund-raising alternatives. Killing elephants has been abandoned by countries such as Kenya, which focuses on conserving the animals and reaping profits from direct tourism, which is now very vibrant.
Mr. President, we should also ensure that the fences are repaired. Additionally, we must try other non-harmful ways to control elephant movements such as planting the habenaria plant. I did research and I am led to understand that this plant, once it is planted, the elephants do not cross, they do not like that plant. The communities can also benefit from that plant because it can be sold in India or China and they can make a lot of money. Elephants do not like this plant, so, it can benefit the communities.
Mr. President, urgent and speedy solutions from the relevant Ministries are required if we are to keep Hwange National Park open for business. We must also ensure that communities benefit and do not get
harmed by animals. It is the Government’s duty to protect its citizens. I thank you Mr. President.


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