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Conservation Champions: The Eyes on the Ground

Community guardians are the unsung heroes of conservation, working tirelessly to protect the environment and wildlife in their communities. In Nyaminyami, a small village in rural Africa, a group of female community guardians are making a difference, despite the challenges they face. This is their story.....

"My name is Nomsa Bafana from Ward 10, Nyaminyami district, there are problems that I am facing, especially as a female community guardian, when I go for assessments and kraals renovations I face problems such as getting to homesteads and meeting no one because the family would have gone to their farming fields, of which in most cases they will be far from their places of residences. This affects my performance levels as I fail to reach my targets, at a seat time. Also at times, some community members resist the information that I will be sharing with them, because they expect me as a community guardian to do the work for them and yet my work is to encourage and promote human and wildlife mitigation methods and it is their responsibility as community members to protect their livestock. However, some community members do not have the vision of oneness and unity that will assist us all to have one achieving the common goal of reducing incidents of livestock deaths by predators. In human-wildlife conflict The most problematic animal is the hyena, these come to terrorize the cattle, either by jumping into the kraals or finding loopholes into goat's kraals, sometimes they walk into the homesteads and terrorize people.  The other animal that is problematic is the elephant, these elephants usually come in early March but now it's soon after people have planted their crops, those that are affected the most are the ones that are settled near Matusadonha game park. Last year 2 people we killed on the same day as they were in the fields, usually people burn the froppings of elephants to to deter them, but these two got preoccupied and forgot and it led to their deaths. The Nyaminyami Rural District Council came to assist during this attack but the elephants were very aggressive and the elephant ended up being put down. These are the problems that we face as a community guardian and as a community member". 

"Sometimes the problems that we face as female community guardians is that at times when doing boma assessments, we may find a boma that needs maintenance and I would not have support or assistance on the process of maintaining as it needs the beneficiary of the boma to be there and assist each other. Looking at reinforced kraals, the method that is used is that of using thorny bushes, and as a young woman I find it hard and I'm still learning how to do it so that I assist in that mitigation activity. However, some people say that it is my job to do the reinforcement of the kraals of the repairing of the bomas because that is what I get paid for and that I do not share my salary with them. When it comes to farming, people have resorted to farming very close to Lake Kariba, and I do not see how the elephants are at fault, because the people are the ones encroaching into their territories, some have even resorted to fencing these areas hence the elephants end up moving closer to the homesteads, Makuyu fishing camp, ward 5. Some of the mitigation solutions that are being used by the communities are using fire, but they end up being attacked, some use drums and when the elephants follow the sound of the drums they end up attacking the people hitting the drums, My expectations of this workshop is to learn more effective solutions on human-elephant mitigation that I can go and share with my community members. An unfortunate incident happened last month where someone was attacked by a crocodile, she was fishing the mosquito nets that had been donated and got their hands injured, I do not have more information on their recovery". Collen Mufepi

The female community guardians of Nyaminyami are an inspiration to us all. They have shown us that even in the face of hardship and adversity, it is possible to make a difference. Let us all learn from their example and support their efforts to protect the environment and wildlife. If we all take action, even in small ways, we can make a real difference for the future of our planet.

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