Crocodiles have attacked and killed more people in Zimbabwe than other wild animals, while elephants come second, CITE has learnt.
According to the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks), 90 percent of fatalities that have occurred from wild animal attacks are from crocodiles and elephants.
“We have two main ‘problem animals’, especially this year. We have the crocodile and the elephant. I think more than 90 percent of fatalities are from either a crocodile or an elephant,” said Tinashe Farawo, the ZimParks Spokesperson.
In 2020 alone, crocodiles attacked 28 people while elephants killed 18. (Stats from ZimParks)
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Farawo attributed the increase of crocodile attacks to the good rains received in the country last year where water bodies became a habitat for the species.
“We received a lot of good rains last year and there were flash floods all over. So almost every water body is infested with crocodiles,” he said, warning people to be cautious when approaching water bodies.
“But because of the temperatures, our young boys and girls will want to swim in that water to cool themselves but we are moving around, educating people what needs to be done to stay safe. As I’m speaking to you now, a six-year-old boy in Mwenezi lost his lower right leg after being attacked by a crocodile while he was fetching water.”
The spokesperson stated ZimParks had established a department of Education and Awareness, Community Relations to educate people about animal behaviour so they can protect themselves.
“We are going into communities educating ourselves about the dos and don’ts, especially in areas adjacent to protected areas and national parks,” he said.
Farawo pleaded with people to avoid moving at night, especially in wildlife prone areas.
“Last week, we lost about three people in Kariba from elephants and all these happened during the night. We tell people, try to minimise movement at night, move during the day but people will protest that we want to impose a curfew on them,” he said.
“But this is reality, most of the fatalities that we have recorded of elephants are during the night and most of the people try to be as close as possible to elephants to take the best shot and best picture yet the animals would be irritated. Stay away from animals, give them space, make sure you give them space so they can move freely without interference. When taking pictures don’t irritate or provoke them. The moment you provoke them, you are on the losing side.”
The ZimParks spokesperson noted that about five people had lost their lives whilst taking photos of elephants.
“I’m sure they were excited to be as close as possible but the animal was not comfortable and it created problems,” he said.
“We have rare cases of lions killing people. There is a case of someone who was riding a motorbike and attacked, lost his life. As for hyenas, this year we recorded five injuries. You will recall a boy who had to be taken to South Africa for facial surgery after he was attacked.”
Meanwhile, Farawo indicated that over the past five years, the authority has decentralised its operations to cater for all parts of the country.
“We had three regions, now we have eight. We have tried to decentralise our operations so that we are where the people are. This is in line with the government’s programme of devolution so that our officers are as close as possible to where the action is happening. Out of the 2000 -3000 staff we have, only 150 are in Harare, the other thousands are in the communities,” Farawo noted.
“Most of our parks are in region five and that’s where the officers are. In fact, those people deserve a danger allowance especially those in Mid Zambezi, where temperatures are unbearable.”