Community guardian at livestock holding facility
There is a communication gap between Protected Area guardians (Park managers and field rangers), and the villagers living in the communities surrounding the PA.
We are working in the 1,910km2 Chizarira National Park which is surrounded by rural communities who live a subsistence lifestyle, growing crops in the wet season and keeping livestock, mainly goats and cattle.
Elephants from the park frequently move out of the unfenced park into the villagers to raid crops. Lions too, move out of the park and predate on unattended livestock oe livestock not properly protected overnight in flimsy holding facilities..
Through our research programs on elephants and lions where we collar an individual in a group (herd or pride), we are able to warn villagers of possible incursions by these two species since the collar has a geofence function that warns us of a collared animal and nearing the park boundary.
Community guardians can be contacted by our research staff to warn villagers of possible human-wildlife conflict (HWC) problems. In addition, they keep records of all HWC in the village wards which they work in.
Villagers who lose crops or livestock to wildlife are incredibly tolerant, but if wildlife conflict is not reduced, they are often driven to dealing with the problem themselves which could result in mass poisoning. The Community guardian is therefore an important conservation link and we need more of them to help us deal with human-wildlife conflict mitigation.