This year, 60 Zimbabweans have been killed by elephants as the conservation success story has led to escalating conflicts with humans, a government spokesman said on Tuesday.

Of the 100,000 elephants, Zimbabwe ranks second in the world after Botswana in the number of elephants and about a quarter of elephants across Africa.

Unlike most of the world, where poachers kill animals for their tusks, Zimbabwe’s elephant population is growing at about five percent a year.

“In some areas, elephants are moving in large herds and devouring everything in the fields, and are now moving to homesteads, forcing community members to take revenge while injuring some elephants,” government spokesman Nick Mangwan said on Twitter.

“The victims have become aggressive and uncontrollable,” Mangwana said.

“The issue of the conflict between man and wildlife has become quite emotional. This year alone, 60 Zimbabweans have been killed by elephants and 50 injured, ”he said.

Mangwana said the animals killed 72 people in 2021.

Animals roam outside the great reserves of Zimbabwe.

But population growth as well as poverty are also forcing Zimbabwean rural people to relocate to areas that bring them into conflict with animals.

Zimbabwe has a population of about 15 million people, growing by about 1.5 percent a year.

Tinashe Farova of Zimbabwe’s Office of Park and Wildlife Management told AFP that it had warned of a “catastrophe” if the numbers were not reduced.

“The threat is likely to increase as we move towards the dry season, when herds will move in search of water and food,” he said.

Farova said rangers were deployed to shoot down the most dangerous elephants.

Conservationists say Zimbabwe may contain about 45,000 elephants that require large areas for grazing.

The elephant trade is banned internationally, but the government has begun considering contraceptives or hunting licenses to manage the herd.

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