A Community guardian is a rural community’s link with the wildlife authorities who are the custodians of wildlife and the NGO’s who work with communities in assisting them on human-wildlife conflict mitigation measures. The role that this person plays is many faceted and includes monitoring and reporting all wildlife incidents affecting the community (livestock killings by lions, elephants decimating crops, crocodile attacks etc.,) assisting in remedial measures, as well as carrying out conservation education. By responding rapidly and positively to human-wildlife conflict incidents and through conservation education, the Community Guardian helps prevent retaliatory killings against wildlife being undertaken by the affected community.
The African Lion and Environmental Research Trust (ALERT) works with rural communities adjacent to two National Parks: Zambezi National Park in the Victoria Falls area and Chizarira National Park which lies south of Lake Kariba which is the world’s largest man-made lake and reservoir by volume.
During the period being reported on, ALERT was urgently requested to assist villagers by protecting their livestock against lions. Unfortunately funds to employ a full-time community guardian were not available however a village spokesperson, acting as a guardian, reported the incidents to ALERT who, with the help of the spokesperson and villagers, were able to put up one mobile predator-proof livestock holding pen in the Mucheni ward in the Binga area north of Chizarira National Park.
The traditional pens made of local materials are often insufficient to protect livestock against predators. Villagers try and keep lions away from livestock pens by making a loud noise using vuvuzelas, by banging pots, and shouting etc.) and by building fires around the pen. This is dangerous to the villager and is not sustainable. The community guardian will be the person to assist villagers in building a better pen, and who will try and convince villagers not to poison the lion or spotted hyaena responsible for livestock killings.
Until we can employ a guardian full time, ALERT research staff working in Chizarira National Park react to incidents such as these as quickly as they can but often only receive a report a few days after an incident.Attachments: