Communities in Matabeleland have been called upon to fully exploit the wildlife based land reform programme and empower themselves through the lucrative safari hunting and game viewing projects facilitated by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks).

Matabeleland is endowed with wildlife resources with Matabeleland North Province being the bastion of the big five and also the prime safari hunting area in the country. 

However, communities in the region are grappling with the challenge of human wildlife conflict which can be addressed if resources are availed.

The issue of human wildlife conflict is a result of failure by authorities to share the proceeds of game farming through safari hunting with people who live within these areas, said the director general of Zimparks Mr Fulton Mangwanya.

Addressing people in the Mtshabezi area of Matobo, Mr Mangwanya said beneficiation on wildlife resources by communities is a top government priority.

Mr Mangwanya whose institution donated 50 000 Nile tilapia fingerlings to the Mtshabezi fishing community said they will continue to work with rural communities to ensure that they fully benefit from the exploitation of the available natural resources. 

His comments come at a time that the Matabeleland Economic Forum through the Livestock Farmers Union has proposed the establishment of new wildlife conservation areas that will be managed by communities through the chiefs where 15 percent of revenue generated will be used to establish a compensation fund for those whose animals and crops are destroyed by animals.

This proposal which has been well received by chiefs could be the panacea to human wildlife conflict.