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Human-wildlife Conflict: Woman Survives Crocodile Attack

Human-wildlife conflict is one of the major wildlife related challenges facing communities in most parts of Chiredzi, due to their proximity to wildlife reserves such as the Save Valley Conservancy and Gonarezhou National Park. While the most common conflicts in Chiredzi North involve elephants and lions, crocodiles have also become a threat to rural farming communities in the constituency.

Recently, a woman identified as Mrs Tarisai, wife to Mr Tarisai, a teacher at Duruwuyu Primary School in ward 20 almost became a statistic of human-wildlife conflict when she narrowly escaped the jaws of a young crocodile while fetching water at Duruwuyu Dam. According to witnesses, Mrs Taurai almost lost her right hand finger while wrestling with the crocodile which could not get a successful hunt.

A wildlife hunting expert, Phillip Mafuta of Leloma African Hunting Safaris, who was part of the reaction team said that the woman was fortunate because the crocodile was young and it lacked experience. She was also saved by the noise made by the people who were close at the time of the incident.

The crocodile had been attacking livestock at the dam, and was a danger to primary school children from Duruwuyu Primary School. It was later eliminated by officials from the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and Leloma African Hunting Safaris who baited the reptile using a dog.

Leloma Safaris provided officials from ZimParks with transport, and also took Mrs Taurai to the hospital. The company has hunting concessions in Chiredzi, and has been active in dealing with human-wildlife conflicts in the area.

Crocodiles are top predators in most inland waters, and conflicts with humans emanate from reduced access to aquatic habitats, habitat destruction and human encroachment into crocodilian habitats as well as ecologically harmful levels of water extraction.

Most villagers and teachers at Duruwuyu Primary School access water for domestic use from the dam and this exposes them to incidents of crocodile attacks. The dam is also the primary source of water for livestock, hence the reptile habitat is vulnerable to human disturbances.

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