Heavy rains relief for wildlife
By Tichaona Kurewa
HARARE- RECENT heavy rains received in most parts of Zimbabwe have come as a blessing to wildlife and are likely to reduce human-animal conflicts, especially during the dry season, experts say.
El Nino-induced drought has affected some wildlife sanctuaries in the country, which has prompted the Zimbabwe and Parks and Wildlife Authority (ZIMPARKS) to instigate measures such as destocking and drilling of boreholes to mitigate the effects of drought.
Conservationist and tour operator, Langton Masunda, said with nearly two years of drought and veld fires, recent downpours have rekindled life in the parks.
“Heavy rains are important to water supply in game parks, forage for wild animal feed as well as improvement of breeding patterns of wildlife. Shortages in water supply affect birth cycle of wild animals.
“When there is limited water supply predators have a lot to choose, they take advantage of week animals killing them in large numbers,” Masunda said.
Masunda said with abundance of water more wildlife will be born and this augurs well with tourism.
“More wildlife will attract more tourists in the country and also increase activities such as spot hunting and other none consumptive tourism will also benefit. We also have more live animals to sell,” he said.
He said ground water table will also rise.
“During the dry season, there is also abundant water underground that can be pumped to cater for the animals during the dry season,” Masunda said.
Commenting on the same issue, Communal Areas Management Program for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) director, Charles Jonga, concurred that water availability will bring down incidents of human-wildlife conflict.
“Campfire is happy, the good rains will help reduce conflict between people and elephants over water, this is normally the biggest source of conflict,” Jonga said.
Zimbabwe is home to many wildlife species such as elephants, buffaloes, rhinos and zebras which attract tourist from across the globe making tourism crucial for the economic growth of the Southern African country.