Ministry warns of increased human-wildlife conflicts arising from encroachments, climate change


The rise in human-wildlife conflicts involving elephants and lions has been attributed to increased human encroachment on wildlife corridors.

The Ministry of Tourism cited environmental changes caused by climate change, unmanaged wildfires and the impact on dry season dispersal areas as contributing factors.

Dominic Chiinda, Director of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife under the Ministry, made this statement in Lusaka on Monday.

He noted that several buffer zones adjacent to national parks have seen an influx of illegal settlers.

“In some cases, this encroachment has extended to park boundaries. The proximity of agricultural fields to wildlife protected areas has contributed to increased human-wildlife conflicts by attracting wildlife,” Chiinda said.

He mentioned that the drought experienced during the 2023/2024 season was expected to have more severe environmental effects than previously recorded, which could lead to a reciprocal increase in human-wildlife conflicts.

Chiinda explained that some animals might wander off in search of food and water, potentially straying into local communities within Game Management Areas and adjacent open areas.

“As such, this address serves as an early warning signal to the citizenry to take every possible caution, look out for stray animals in our community and report them immediately once spotted to the Department of National Parks and Wildlife or the nearest police station,” he advised.

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Additionally, Chiinda expressed concern over the significant increase in the molestation or killing of wildlife by local communities.

He reiterated that such actions were against the provisions of the Zambia Wildlife Act Number 14 of 2015, which governs wildlife and its habitat in Zambia.

“We therefore wish to encourage all citizens to desist from such acts and report all human-wildlife conflict incidents or sightings of wildlife within human settlements to the Department’s local office, nearest traditional leader, police, or councillor,” Chiinda advised.

He also commented on a regrettable incident that occurred in Zambezi District of North Western Province, which has gone viral on social media.

“On June 19, 2024, two lions were spotted in the bush near Zambezi Town, and the community descended on them and killed the animals.

“Prior to this incident, the Department had deployed three teams of wildlife police officers to dart the lions and return them to protected areas,” Chiinda said.

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