Human-animal conflict nearing it’s end in the maputo national park
The days are numbered for human-wildlife conflict in the Matutuíne district, in the southern Mozambican Maputo province, thanks to the signing of an agreement on Monday (17) to fence off the buffer zone of the Maputo National Park (PNM).
The new fence will keep wild animals at bay, particularly elephants, which are the major concern for the local residents, whose agricultural fields were often trampled by the pachyderms in the search for food.
The solution was brought by Global Conserve, a non-governmental organisation that committed to mobilise 2 million dollars to build the fence around the western boundary of the Muwai Community Concession, a two-year project involving the PNM and its management partners, Peace Parks Foundation and MozBio.
Elephants in the buffer zone of PNM are singled out by peasant farmers as being the most problematic, specifically in administrative posts of Belavista and Zitundo. These areas are seen as the most productive in the districts of Matutuíne district, thanks to good conditions for agricultural purposes on the banks of rivers Maputo, Futi and others.
Speaking shortly after signing the agreement, the director-general of Global Conserve, Andrew Parkers, assured that human-elephant conflict could become a thing of the past in the critical areas of Belavista and Zitundo.
According to Parkers, Global Conserve will mobilize resources to implement one of the aspirations of the communities which claimed for such initiative which is expected to ensure a healthier coexistence between the people and wild animals.
He stressed that his organisation is only interested in the conservation of ecosystems and not usurping the communities’ lands.
‘We are asking you to trust us. Our mission is only for conservation and stopping human-animal conflict. We have no interest in taking the communities’ land. We will put up a fence to prevent animals from destroying your crops,’ said the director of Global Conserve.
The Maputo National Park Administrator, Miguel Gonçalves, acknowledged that the increasing number of elephants in the park meant that some of the largest land mammals were living outside the limits of the conservation area, and he believes that more sophisticated fencing would reduce the problem of elephants invading the farms of the local communities.
A source from the National Administration of Conservation Areas said that the elephant population increased exponentially in recent years in Maputo province, forcing PNM to donate part of its herd to the Zinave National Park, in Inhambane province. The translocation of 70 elephants, was carried in two stages.
‘The concession of this area was one of the great flagships that we defended in order to mitigate the human-animal conflict. These are areas where the same resource is disputed, which is water, and in the search for this water unfortunately the elephants find the fields,’ said Gonçalves.
Albino Howana, head of the administrative post of Belavista, urged the communities to cherish the project which, in his view will mitigate problems reported in the villages. He noted that there were times when the human-wildlife conflict was more worrying, but things tend to improve in recent years.
‘This memorandum will improve the situation here in the buffer zone. One of the great advantages is that communities’ resources will be preserved’, he said.
It should be noted that the community-led conservation area will also open up opportunities to diversify the communities’ source of income by promoting eco-tourism, exploiting the landscape and the animals that currently reside in these areas.