CAMPFIRE Philosophy and Human-Wildlife Conflict
Due to poor rainfall, the absence of rural infrastructure, most notably roads and, in some cases, the presence of tsetse fly, human settlement and cultivation was minimal in most of the areas where CAMPFIRE was first implemented. Livelihoods of communities supported by natural resources, especially wildlife, are threatened by human population increases, now averaging 16 people per square kilometer in some districts, compared to 10 people per square kilometer when CAMPFIRE began. Several people have died from wildlife attacks in CAMPFIRE areas. Crop destruction has reduced yields by up to 18% and negatively affected food and nutrition security thereby increasing poverty in areas with high abundance of wildlife. Livestock attacks have reduced herds and are affecting personal incomes and livelihoods security. There are sporadic disturbances of school attendance when straying dangerous wild animals are reported. Water sources are contaminated and equipment destroyed, especially by elephant.
During the period 2010-2015, human and wildlife conflict in Zimbabwe’s communal areas has resulted in the loss of 88 lives, over 5000 livestock, 6000 hectares of crops, and irrigation and water supply equipment. Some of the recent deaths include school children and heads of households
In general, elephants are responsible for up to 75% of all wildlife crop damage in communal areas, with between 30 and 45 cases reported per ward every season. Crop damage is high during the wet season when the most commonly grown subsistence crops, maize and sorghum, are mature. Most rural communities are located close to rivers, and this naturally creates competition for water between the community and wildlife. The use of traditional methods of problem animal control in cropping areas such as making noise and throwing of stones, create habituation and often provoke the crop-raiding animals into challenging people guarding their crops. There is no insurance or any other form of compensation to affected communities for loss of property, crops, and even death, except for standard funeral assistance provided by the community, RDC and local Safari Operators. In the early days, the RDC paid compensation, but without a proper assessment system of the claims. The communities now set aside funds to cater for such eventualities as part of their annual CAMPFIRE revenues.
Solar powered electric fences were constructed out of donor funding and local community contribution to protect crops and homes in the 1990s, in various CAMPFIRE districts. In most districts these fences are now disused due to a shorter life-span. In Binga only the Sinamwenda village still have their circular electric fence intact out of seven similar fences in other villages in the Binga Rural District Council. A new Buffalo fence has been rehabilitated by the Masoka community in Mbire (formerly Guruve) district using their own CAMPFIRE income. Communities also employ Game Scouts, paid from their wildlife accounts, to complement the RDCs' Problem Animal Control Units. The game scouts monitor and apprehend those persons breaking the national, district or locally developed rules for using resources. As part of its support services, CAMPFIRE Association, with the assistance of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, in August 2006 facilitated a two week resource monitor training programme at Mushandike Natural Resources College in response to the high turnover of Resource Monitors due to various factors, and as a way of enhancing the capacity of local communities to manage wildlife. The training was funded by the CAMPFIRE programme resources as a special service by the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority. Donor funded training was last carried out in the 1990s. Although the programme has managed to undertake this training in the absence of donor funding, other challenges remain such as provision of the necessary resources required to apply the training in the field, such as field vehicles, firearms, and ammunition and communication radios.
CAMPFIRE Association is currently implementing a five year (2015-2019) Global Environment Facility/World Bank funded Hwange Sanyati Biological Corridor Project led by WWF Zimbabwe. One of the key features of this project is human and wildlife conflict mitigation and livelihood improvement for communities in Wards 3 and 4 of Tsholotsho district.