A Binga traditional leader has raised fears that the Gwayi-Shangani dam, which is nearing completion, might worsen the human-wildlife conflict in the area and other parts of Matabeleland North.

The government says the construction of the dam that is viewed as a lasting solution to Bulawayo’s water woes will be complete by year end.

Chief Siansale said there must be a policy directing beneficiaries of the dam such as Bulawayo residents to contribute towards the Human-Wildlife Fund.

Siansale made the remarks during an indaba on the Human Wildlife Conflict Relief Fund organised by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management (ZimParks) at the just ended Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo.

“The upcoming Gwayi-Shangani lake is a very noble and great idea to provide Bulawayo residents with clean and portable water,” Siansale said.

“The lake may, however, push human wildlife conflict to unprecedented levels in Binga, Hwange and Lupane district communities as the lake shall be the new national park where wild animals shall be resident within the lake catchment area.”

Loss of habitat is cited as the main reason for the increasing cases of human-wildlife conflict in the country, resulting in the loss of life in some cases.

Dozens of villagers and communal farmers continue to lose their lives, livestock and crops to wild animals.

Last year, the government announced the setting up of a fund to compensate victims of human-wildlife conflict.

ZimParks has been struggling to compensate victims of wildlife attacks.

The government initially approved the Human-Wildlife Conflict Relief Fund to compensate victims of human and wildlife conflict in 2022

“It would be wise to take a leaf from the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority where a certain percentage from their accruals goes towards the rural electrification programme when an individual buys electricity tokens,” Siansale said.

“Likewise residents, who will benefit from the clean water should contribute a certain percentage towards the human wildlife fund as they pay for that water.”

Siansale said this will go a long way in compensating villagers for any losses related to human-wildlife conflicts.

He said the fund to address the conflict must be managed from district levels.

“This is because at village level the village heads know their people and it will be easy to identify the victims and compensate the rightful people,” he said.

Southern Eye