Human/Wildlife Conflict: How it risks and affects lives

Elephants. FILE PIC
Elephants. FILE PIC

The Human-Wildlife Conflict (HWC) is the conflict between humans and animals struggling to coexist or share the environment according to a paper by Modise, Lekoko, Thakadu & Mpotokwane titled Toward sustainable conservation and management of human–wildlife interactions in the Mmadinare Region of Botswana: villagers’ perceptions on challenges and prospects (University of Botswana, 2018).

The conflict affects both animals and humans in different ways. What happens is, animals roam residential areas searching for water or simply crossing by. The residents then proceed to try to defend themselves by killing the animal or at least trying to kill it. Meanwhile, the animal will also act and most probably a person will lose their life, and that is why we call it the human-wildlife conflict.

Farmers’ livestock and crops get destroyed and eaten by wild animals, like hyenas that eat the livestock and elephants that would run through their fences and crops, and they would be left with nothing afterwards, “we need to strive for survival” Jack Ramsden (an interviewed farmer said). According to Botswana’s government, 45 people have been killed by elephants in recent years and there have been more than 8,000 cases recorded of human-wildlife conflict.- eNCA says (24/06/19 at 10:46 am)

“The elephants are killing us, the elephants destroy everything, we can’t even plough. They come into the village and we are not safe anymore,” said Buti Sebudubudu in an interview with eNCA.

The government is working on finding a solution to the human-wildlife conflict crisis while communities are calling for some of the elephants to be culled.

Some farmers in the Okavango leave because animals destroy and eat their livestock and can’t do a lot about it due to law 332, page 10, chapter 08:01 penal code says none can injure animals. More people should be aware of this problem because of its intensity.

“It is something that could not be avoided because there were people born in these places and had to coexist with the animals.”- Tswelelo Morekisi (an interviewed specialist). The human-wildlife conflict is caused by competition for shared natural resources between humans and wildlife, which is why this conflict is not something easy to resolve.

Having said that there is no easy way to stop this conflict, but we can prevent it by for example building larger fences that surround villages and residential areas which could help to prevent animals such as lions and hyenas from coming into those areas.

“Something they already do is plant chillies to keep the elephants away because elephants are afraid of chillies,” said Jack Ramsden (farmer).

For now, the government and ministries are working hard to keep the Okavango delta intact, because if the Okavango delta is not kept intact, it could be the end of the Okavango which could end tourism to Botswana's most attractive wildlife destination and homes to residents there.

*Uyanda Keitheila, Joseph Pilpre, and Lelentle Mganga, are Year 6 students from Westwood International School working on the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme Exhibition. The exhibition is the culminating, collaborative experience in the final year of the IB Primary Years Programme. Students will explore, document, and share their understanding of an issue or opportunity of personal significance

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