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According to the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, resource competition between growing human and wildlife populations is a major cause of the conflict.

The elephant population in Zimbabwe is growing by 5% a year, say authorities.

According to wildlife authorities, 72 people were attacked by elephants in Zimbabwe in 2021.

In the latest attack, a farmer from the Mbire district was one of 46 people killed by wild animals in Zimbabwe this year alone.

Tinashe Farawo, who is the head of corporate communications at the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks), says park rangers often have to undertake the grim task of delivering mutilated body parts to family members of people who were attacked as the rise in attacks on humans becomes a national problem.

Farawo has described the situation as “dire” due to the population growth.

“The population of our animals has increased at least 20 folds, while the population of humans has increased about 15 folds since 1980.”

“Our land is not expanding. Hence, there is some growing competition for resources leading to the loss of lives,” Farawo said.

Zimbabwean farmers complain that their crops are being destroyed. According to government statistics, around 10 people are killed every month by elephants.

Citing a report by BBC Africa, Hwange National Park, which is the country’s large nature reserve spanning 14,600 sq km (5,637 sq miles) in north-western Zimbabwe, has the capacity to sustain 15,000 elephants.

However, officials say that the population there now stands at around 55,000, with many elephants straying into surrounding areas in search of food and water, the report revealed.

In May this year, the first African Elephant Summit was held in Hwange, northern Zimbabwe.

Delegates gathered in a bid to develop a new management strategy and promote the lifting of a ban on ivory trade.

The elephant summit highlighted a need to derive economic value from overpopulated elephant herds and as well as citing management issues.

Zimbabwean officials say the country can support up to 55,000 elephants, but the population has more than doubled to 100,000.

According to the research website phys.org, Zimbabwe has the world's second-largest population after Botswana, with a population of 100,000 elephants, about one-quarter of the elephants in all of Africa.

IOL

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