(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.
Human-wildlife 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
Communities living 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
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
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.
Statistics provided 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.
Wildlife is 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 Zambezi Region.
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
Although the 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
The Salambala 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
Commercial farms 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 dollars.
He estimated the average loss to each
commercial farmer in the area annually at 375,000 Namibian
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.