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In Zambia, Roaming Elephants Prove Dangerous

Roaming elephants in Zambia are said to be destroying food crops, property and even human lives. The country’s wildlife authorities say they are working to resolve the problems, but villagers blame the continuing rampage on what they see as the government’s reluctance to take action.

Lewis Saiwana is the director-general of the Zambian Wildlife Authority, ZAWA. English to Africa reporter Angel Tabe asked him why there’s a nationwide problem with elephants and what is being done about it. “There is an increase in the elephant population. They have found a better habitat in Zambia. As the Zambia Wildlife Authority, our control hunters control these problem elephants through…fencing. When elephants destroy public property, our hunters control them.”

Saiwana says the animals are fleeing harassment in search of security, which can be guaranteed not only by good wildlife policies, but also by better resources. “The protection of wildlife is actually the same in the region, but [if funds are] available, the level of protection is also quite good.

Since this issue involves the borders of Zambia and Zimbabwe, Sainwana says the two countries have agreed to work things out as a team. “There are arrangements that we establish a trans-frontier conservation area.” And to balance wildlife conservation and community livelihood demands, “We need to sit down with the Zimbabwean Wildlife Authority so that we can put programs in place which are accepted on both sides…maybe the situation can be normalized.”

Regarding compensation for losses resulting from rampaging elephants, Sainwana says, “No law exists to regulate that. But in terms of crops, maybe an estimation can be used and our government is actually discussing [the possibility of] compensating people, but there are just debates on that.”

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