WINDHOEK Namibia (Xinhua) --
Seven years ago, 48 year old Zatrick
Mbanga, a farmer from Namibia’s northeast Zambezi region was
attacked by a hippo and he lost his right arm and foot during
This happened as he
was busy tending to his maize crops while also keeping a look
out for wild animals that had been ravaging his crops, something
that has become a norm for people in his area.
conflict (HWC) is a fact of life in Namibia’s communal
conservancies, especially in Zambezi Region, where elephants,
lions, crocodiles and hippos live in close proximity to farmers’
crops, livestock, and to people.
close to national parks suffer a great deal from wildlife while
HWC cannot be eradicated as long as Namibia conserves its
wildlife outside of national parks, and so the country has to
somehow find a way to manage it.
In Mbanga’s case,
hippos often come to graze on freshly growing maize in his area
and one night in 2010, Mbanga was out checking his crop after he
had lit a fire to deter the hippos from his crop.
As he was walking
home, he heard a hippo breathing close by and within seconds the
hippo was chasing him. He tried to zigzag through the maize
field but unfortunately he fell and was attacked by the hippo.
This was after he
had telephoned the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) to
report that hippos had been in his fields and an official was
due to visit that day, but failed to turn up. So he lit a fire
to deter the hippos.
The father of two
lives in Isuswa village, wedged between Botswana and Zambia, and
close to the Chobe River in Salambala Conservancy.
Mbanga is one of the
lucky ones as many have not been so lucky and they end up losing
their lives in the attacks.
by the MET show that between 2014 and 2016, 39 people were
killed by wildlife, and 7 already this year while last year 545
cattle and over 200 goats were lost to predators.
Beginning of March,
Namibia held a Conference on Human Wildlife Conflict Management
to review the existing policy on HWC management.
Speaking at the
conference, a researcher who is leading the Kwando Carnivore
Project in Kavango and Zambezi regions, Lise Hanssen said that
wildlife in the Zambezi Region moves between parks, through
communal conservancies, and thus could not successfully survive
without freedom to roam, which inevitably leads to conflict in
the farming areas between the parks.
plentiful in Zambezi, partly because it is tolerated by farmers
who see the benefits from tourism and trophy hunting, which for
Salambala includes jobs, meat, and cash distribution.
Over 600 cattle were
taken in the area between 2011 and 2016, mostly by hyenas while
there were over 4,000 incidents of crop damage, mostly by
elephants, which move between Botswana and Zambia, through
The MET provides
financial offsets for losses through its Self-Reliance Scheme,
topped up by conservancies, while 5,000 Namibian dollars (380
U.S. dollars) are provided for funeral.
Mbanga has a wife
and two children to support. He still farms and has around
twenty cattle. Planting maize has become increasingly hard work
thus he gets around his farm on a prosthetic lower leg, which
was paid for by a kind-hearted businessman who lives in the same
area where Mbanga was treated.
environment ministry does not compensate for injuries caused by
wildlife, it did create a self-reliance scheme by giving each
communal conservancy 60,000 Namibian dollars, to match with
conservancy funds raised from trophy hunting and tourism, to
offset crop and livestock losses to farmers.
Conservancy pays farmers 1,500 Namibian dollars for a cow lost
to predators, and gives fixed sums for crop losses, well below
the market rate.
Although there is no
compensation for injury, Salambala paid Mbanga 5,000 Namibian
dollars to help him to recover.
also suffer from HWC. A representative of about 75 farms in the
Kamanjab area between Etosha National Park and Kunene
conservancies, Helmke von Bach said that it takes only a minute
for an elephant to push over a windmill costing 80,000 Namibian
He estimated the
average loss to each commercial farmer in the area annually at
375,000 Namibian dollars.
According to CEO of
the Namibian Chamber of the Environment, Chris Brown, the cost
of wildlife to each conservancy member in Sanitatas Conservancy,
in the northwest Kunene region, amounts to 1,000 Namibian
dollars per person per annum.