The grief people on the eastern boundary of Kasungu National Park (KNP) have been experiencing because of wildlife-human conflict is now coming to an end.
This is because International Fund for Animal Welfare, with assistance from United States Agency for International Development (Usaid), has, so far, erected a 13.5-kilometre (km) electric fence, out of the estimated 40km, at KNP to reduce cases of wildlife-human conflict in the area.
Elephants, and other wildlife, from the park have been terrorising people in surrounding villages.
Modester Phiri, one of the human-elephant conflict victims, was left in dire poverty after elephants terrorised her property including crops.
“Human-elephant conflict has compromised our food and economic security. Almost every year, elephants damage our property and raid our crops. This year, an elephant destroyed our house and we cannot afford to refurbish it.
“We are excited that the refurbishment of the fence is underway. We are optimistic that, when the work is completed, this will be history in communities surrounding Kasungu National Park,” she said.
This is one of the many stories that compelled Ifaw, buoyed by Usaid’s financial contribution, to re-furbish the fence that protects the eastern boundary of KNP.
The project ran from April to October last year.
Malawi-Zambia Landscape Project Chief of Party Patricio Ndadzela said the project to construct the 40km fence was estimated at $350,000.
He said the remaining 26.5km stretch of fence would be completed by the end of this year.
Ifaw has also empowered people around KNP with prerequisite skills on how to build the fence. This was also a strategy to protect it from vandalism and empower the needy community.
“As you know, farmers cultivate closer to the fence and we made sure we built this fence,” Ndadzela said.
He said, after completing the fence, Ifaw was expecting to relocate 200 elephants from Liwonde National Park to KNP.
“This will definitely increase the population of elephants in Kasungu, which is currently pegged at 100,” he said.
Though the initiative was meant to protect elephants, it would also help other species.
KNP is on 2,100 square kilometres of natural woodland and bush, with occasional stretches of open grass.