An outdated wildlife law is causing misery for Zimbabweans who live near animals

Written by Marie Mundia for The NewsHawks

Abednigo Moyo from Matabeleland South District of Zimbabwe was harvesting mopane (amacimbi) worms when he survived a near-death experience from a tiger attack.

He found himself wrestling with the evil cat who miraculously fended off him by shoving his hand into its mouth and blocking his windpipe.

He said that at some point in January 2020, he along with his brother and his wife went to Gumela Farm owned by William Ncube and sought permission to harvest amacimbi from his property, which had been given to them.

While he was harvesting worms, he suddenly heard the unusual sound of something approaching the forest.

“Before I could even see or respond, a tiger appeared heading towards me. I tried to run but it was too late the predator attacked me and I don’t know how I gathered strength and managed to grab it from my neck before it attacked me. However, the grip was not strong, and the tiger freed himself but he slipped and lost his balance.I realized that if I didn’t do something the animal would kill me.Either I died fighting or I collapsed, he said.

When the tiger opened its mouth ready to sink its teeth into it, it thrust its hand into its mouth and grabbed its windpipe.

“It was painful because at the same time, the tiger was biting my hand but I was choking on the inside while the other hand was defending its claws. I was also screaming at the same time. The struggle lasted for a minute or two and I saw that the animal was also losing strength from suffocation.”

Despite all his efforts to save his life, he was later arrested and charged with killing an endangered animal.

Moyo’s story is typical of what Zimbabweans in wildlife-rich areas go through on a daily basis as a result of the current outdated laws governing wildlife management and protection.

In 2020, a court ordered 78-year-old Amos Moyo from Thukani village on the edge of Hwange National Park to compensate the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Department.

Power (ZimParks) $20,000 (£17,300) after killing a tiger that attacked him in the bush.

Moyo was agonized over the loss of a goat that had been devoured by a prolific tiger and later reported the incident to the authorities about the incident in vain, Moyo used an ax handle to eliminate the tiger who had fallen into a trap he had set in the Vulamashava bush.

Since the beginning of 2022 so far, 45 people have been killed while 40 others have been injured due to human-wildlife conflict, and the problem is expected to increase with the dry season in which animals encroach on human settlements in search of food and water. fast approaching.

Over the years, people injured as a result of human-wildlife conflict have received sporadic and ineffective medical assistance from Rural District Councils (RDCs) and ZimParks. On the other hand, the families of the deceased are left without any form of compensation.

Old laws have not only escalated human-wildlife conflict, but also difficulties in prosecuting wildlife cases and increased cases of animal trafficking from other provinces across the Zimbabwean border.

In November 2020, the Government of Zimbabwe began the process of reviewing the Parks and Wildlife Act (Chapter 20:14) 1975 in an effort to ensure that it better reflects the current needs of the community and is in line with international best practice.

However, conservationists such as international animal law advocate Ever Chinoda, founder of Speak Out For Animals, bemoan the snail-paced pace of the review, a move Chinoda said mostly benefits poachers and animal smugglers at the expense of the country’s wildlife heritage. Zimbabwe.

“The ongoing revision of the Parks and Wildlife Act of 1975 is a step in the right direction for us as a nation, even though the pace at which snails move is unfavorable to our wildlife and benefits hunters and animal dealers.”

“The current law contains a lot of loopholes that need to be quickly amended so that we have a law that talks about wildlife crime without relying on other legislation when prosecuting cases. As we speak, our definition of wildlife is limited to animals that are indigenous to Zimbabwe and that have proven to be a problem, For example when we were dealing with a case of 25 juvenile monkeys trafficked from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).The criminals ended up spending six months in prison for animal cruelty because we couldn’t bring them a bigger charge of wildlife smuggling because The monkeys were not citizens of Zimbabwe.”

Chinoda added that apart from the amendments, there is also a need to standardize the various legal instruments that have been put in place to deal with different wildlife situations.

“We have over 10 legal instruments and other laws regulating the ownership, use and management of wildlife; they all need to be combined into one law which makes things easier.”

Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority spokeswoman Tinashe Farau told The NewsHawks that the recent Parks and Wildlife Management Act has caused even greater harm not only to animals but also to humans.

The current law is a colonial document that does not speak of today’s realities. People like Mr. Moyo from Matobo District in southern Matabeleland have been accused and convicted of poaching, after killing a tiger that attacked him on a farm.”

“Our goal is to come up with a document that speaks to the aspirations of Zimbabweans in a way that allows them to live in harmony with nature because they will benefit from their wildlife,” Farao said.

National Coordinator and Senior Director of Climate, Environmental and Meteorological Services at the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality, Professor Prosper Matundi attributed the slow pace of the review process to the various proposals from stakeholders who had to take in addition to the current backlog in the Attorney General’s Office.

“The reason behind the slow pace in terms of passing the final policy is that there are various proposals from stakeholders, some of which require us to negotiate with them until we reach a consensus. For example, there is a disagreement between communities who do not want to be part of the CCAM program for the resources of Aboriginal (Campfire) and rural county councils about not taking advantage of wildlife.”

“Given the current backlog in the attorney general’s office, we have contacted him and he has agreed to process all legal instruments that we submitted to him once in October,” he said.

This article is reproduced here as part of African Conservation Journalism Program, funded in Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe by the US Agency for International Development’s VukaNow Program: an activity. Implemented by the international conservation organization Space for Giants, it aims to expand conservation and environmental journalism in Africa, and bring more African voices into the international conservation debate. Read the original story over here.

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