Farmers are said to be reluctant to hand over their livestock to the care of eco-rangers under the communal herd project in Habu, by Habu Elephant Development Trust and Wild Entrust which is designed to integrate wildlife conservation with livestock farming.
The project mainly focuses on putting livestock in a zoning system that will divide grazing land into two, allowing farmers to be in one area, wild animals in another area while a wildlife area would act as a buffer zone to help achieve co-existence which is one of the main objectives of the project.
In an interview, the livestock programme Director Tiego Mpho indicated that farmers prefer handing only some of their cattle which they intend to sell, however he noted that by doing so the project would fail as those animals that are not in cordons will be exposed to predators.
“The project’s efforts to push the co-existence agenda will be nullified as farmers will continue losing livestock from predators. Furthermore, having communal herd and free range will pose a challenge when implementing the grazing plan,” Mpho explained.
The resistance on the farmers’ part, he said is due to the cultural believes and taboos of people living in the area who believe in personally taking care of their cattle. Mpho highlighted that they are currently addressing kgotla meetings to ensure that farmers understand the importance and benefits that come with the initiative.
He noted that they have since relegated the issue to cluster level which includes Habu, Bowajwankwe and Nxwirri to come up with a resolution that would satisfy both parties as well as the project.
Mpho explained that farmers will have a 100% access to their cattle adding that the only difference will be that they are under communal herd and taken care of by eco-rangers 24hours a week.
He noted that the eco-rangers will protect the grazing land and effectively manage livestock, to ensure they safe from predators, a move which he said will contribute to human wildlife co-existence.
Mpho explained that farmers will not be required to pay anything adding that free water is also among the incentives that come with the project. The project, according to Mpho will improve on what the Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) has been doing and seeking to achieve.