Unmasking Human Wildlife Conflicts

CROCODILES and hippos are responsible for the most human deaths in Africa, an expert has said.

Mr John Noronha, an RTI Monitoring and Evaluation Manager implementing USAID’s Tuhifadhi Maliasili project disclosed here recently that the two were behind most of the Human Wildlife Conflict (HWC) related deaths in the country.

Mr Noronha, who was shedding light on the phenomenon before Journalists’ Environmental Association of Tanzania (JET) members, said crocodiles and hippos were responsible for 1,069 reported human and deaths around the country.

According to the expert, the wild animals roaming water bodies around the country had also inflicted 642 temporary and permanent injuries to human beings in their quest to survival.

“Coexistence between people and wildlife is a national priority for sustainable development and wildlife conservation in Tanzania, nonetheless it has come with its fair share of price to humankind,” Mr Noronha observed.

Deaths aside, the RTI Monitoring and Evaluation Manager noted that food security has also been at the mercy of wild animals.

According to him, at least 41,404 acres of crops have so far been damaged, thanks to HWCs.

“Such conflicts are on the increase due to shrinking space that results in increased competition for land, water, and other natural resources between humans and wildlife,” added Mr Noronha.

The decline in wildlife resources has been linked to human actions through overexploitation, habitat destruction, pollution and introduction of non-native species.

A National Human – Wildlife Conflict Management Strategy (2020 – 2024), attributes HWC to insufficient land use planning.

It argues that historically, land use planning has been lacking or, where it has been employed, land use plans have not been enforced or were undertaken without considering the risk of HWC.

Implemented to the tune of 30.5 million US dollars, the five-year USAID’s Tuhifadhi Maliasili project aims at addressing threats to animal movement and biodiversity in Tanzania.

Over the past few decades, Tanzania is reported to have lost at least one-third of its ecosystems and the number of threatened species has tripled.

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