Conflict between communities surrounding Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve and its animals has worsened this year with 832 reported cases.
Speaking when the Minister of Tourism, Parks and Wildlife Michael Usi visited the reserve on Wednesday, the facility’s manager Leonard Moyo said stray elephants create conflicts with humans.
“Two weeks ago, some six elephants went as far as Euthini in Mzimba District and when our rangers failed to track them, they went into Zambia and have not returned,” he said.
Moyo said communities surrounding the reserve also vandalised the fence, a situation which has made it easy for animals to terrorise them.
He said the reserve has since provided the communities with fire crackers to scare away the elephants while the rangers camp in problem spots.
“This is affecting us because instead of our rangers patrolling the reserve against poachers, they are now occupied with chasing elephants from the villages to the reserves, a development that has seen an increase in poaching,” said Moyo.
He said so far the reserve has confiscated 22 muzzle loaders from poachers and 77 fishing nets.
In an interview, Usi said government will erect another fence from February next year and will enhance the skills of rangers to control stray elephant.
“The communities surrounding the reserve should also stop destroying the fence because they have contributed to the problem,” he said.
The reserve is home to elephants, hippos, buffaloes and antelopes, among other animals.