Role of environmental education in addressing Human-Animal conflict in Zambia's game management area

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Nyambe, Chimbwe
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Human-animal conflict, particularly human-carnivore conflict, is a growing problem in today’s crowded world, and can have significant impacts on both human and wildlife populations. Despite the application of different management practices, both locally and globally, the problem still exists. This calls for techniques and innovative approaches that could make a meaningful contribution to resolving such a long-term problem. The aim of this study therefore, was to establish the role that environmental education could play in addressing human-animal conflict in Zambia’s Chiyaba game management area. The researcher predominantly used qualitative approach and employed a case study research design. This study was based on five village action groups of Chiyaba Game Management area. The sample size comprised sixty-six (66) respondents. This meant, 2 Zambia Wildlife Authority officials, 2 members from Conservation Lower Zambezi, 2 members from Zambia Environmental Management Agency and 60 local inhabitants. Purposive sampling was used to decide on the Chiyaba GMA because of the high rates of human-animal conflicts prevailing in the area. EE members from ZEMA, CLZ and ZAWA were also purposively sampled based on the fact that the officers catered specific areas of environmental concerns and for the fact that these are knowledgeable experts within this study domain. This study used random sampling to reach out research subject (unit) in Village Action Groups in Chiyaba GMA. Welman et al. (2005) and Ghosha (2002) states that in random sampling, research subjects have equal opportunity of being selected from the population and the model is objective in nature. Among the tools the researcher used to gather primary data were semi-structured interviews, unstructured observation schedule and focus group discussions. These complemented one another and hence validated the collected data. The first objective was to find out how local people perceive wildlife of Chiyaba Game management area. The findings of the research showed that despite the massive threat to human life and property, the people of Chiyaba (95%) were found to have special attachments towards wildlife. They were found to be willing to coexist with wildlife provided effective strategies were put in place claiming their coexistence dated back from time immemorial. The second objective was to assess the effectiveness of measures that have been put in place to minimize human-animal conflict in Chiyaba GMA. The laws put in place by the Zambia Wildlife Authority were not effective, local people (73%) saw ZAWA as concerned to police them and protect the animals and that there was no compensation for their sufferings. The third objective was to determine local people’s awareness of the role that EE could play in addressing human-animal conflict in Chiyaba GMA. The role that environmental education could play in addressing human-animal conflict was not yet known by the majority (90%) local people of Chiyaba GMA. This could be the reason for the high rate of human-animal conflict in Chiyaba GMA. The fourth objective was to establish the specific role EE could play in addressing human-animal conflict in Chiyaba GMA. There was need to test new solutions to human-wildlife conflicts embedded in EE such as teaching young people in schools, the public and local people about personal gains (egocentric), benefits for future generations and the community (anthropocentric), wildlife welfare and rights (biocentric) and biodiversity and ecosystem productivity. The only hope now lies in EE. This is not to say EE must be applied in exclusion from other options, every situation is different: it would be risky to extrapolate from one area to another. In all cases a combination of options is needed. The major recommendations of the study are the need for better commitment by the Zambian government to address the problem of human-animal conflict through improved policy, introduction of compensation schemes, introduction of EE as a compulsory and separate subject and implementation of EE in all major agencies like ZAWA and in Chiyaba GMA in particular. Other measures to be considered by the Zambian government and other stakeholders include education and training activities for local people as well as involvement of different stakeholders in the fight against HWC.
Environmental Education , Wild life conservation-Zambia , Human-Animal relationships-Zambia