A surge of animal attacks in river regions

Martin Endjala

THE Zambezi and Kavango regions, have of late been reporting a surge in human wildlife conflicts and since January two people were killed by wild animals and two others were severely injured.

The separate incidents involved hippos and crocodiles. Last Friday, a 59-year-old man died after he was attacked by a hippo in the Ikaba area in the Zambezi Region.

In another attack, a 32-year-old woman survived a crocodile attack in the Thipanana village in Mukwe constituency, according to Nampol spokesperson Chief Inspector Elifas Kuwinga. This incident happened on Monday.

Last month, a five year-old girl also survived an attack by a crocodile in the Zambezi region’s Katere village.

Responding to queries, the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism Chief Public Relations Officer Romeo Muyuunda, told the Windhoek Observer newspaper, that there have only been four reported incidents so far, involving four people of whom two succumbed to hippo attacks.

“These incidents were reported in Kavango East and West regions respectively, where two people were attacked by crocodiles, while in the Zambezi region two people succumbed to hippo attacks,” he clarified.

Responding to a question, whether the affected families receive any compensation, Muyunda said they do not offer compensation, but provide funeral assistance to bereaved families worth N$100 000.

“As you know, one can never place a price value on someone’s life. And the ministry does not wish to see any lives lost due to wild animals, and every death, damage and injury is regrettable’’, he lamented.

According to him, MEFT does awareness campaigns throughout the regions, particularly in communities that are in hotspot areas and those living near rivers, to encourage the safe utilization of the rivers.

He further said that relevant authorities are continuously engaged to set up water points for these residents, so that they do not need to go and collect water to those rivers.

In the absence of water points people are compelled to collect water from the river where they fall prey to wild animals (hippos and crocodiles), says Muyuunda. Additionally, all problem-causing animals are killed in accordance with the policy of ‘Human Wildlife
Conflict’, he added.

While there is no right approach to deal with confrontation when faced by a wild animal, Muyunda encourages people to by all means avoid such situations.

The ministry’s policies, he further explained, clearly stipulates that every person has the general duty to prevent or minimize cases of wildlife conflicts.

There are a number of factors causing wildlife conflicts, including the continued competition between humans and animals for resources. He highlighted that most people living in the three northeastern regions of Zambezi, Kavango East and West, depend on water resources to
sustain their livelihoods.

”Unfortunately, the rivers inhabit dangerous predators which leads to conflict. And furthermore, both human and wildlife populations keep growing, leading to increased competition and consequently Human Wildlife Conflict (HWC)”, Muyunda said.

The Ministry has reiterated that everyone has the responsibility in various capacities to avoid wildlife conflicts, and that the responsibility should not only rest with the Government alone.

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