Zimbabwe has a relatively large population of lions with Hwange National Park, the biggest game reserve in the country, having about 500 lions. However, lions are dotted across the country and cases of lions breaking loose and attacking people and cattle are many in Zimbabwe. According to Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, 59 lion attacks were reported last year.
Hippos are statistically the most dangerous animals in Africa, but in Zimbabwe they are second to lions in attacks on humans. In 2017, hippos attacked 44 people across the country. In March this year, a man was killed while trying to take a selfie with a hippopotamus in western Zimbabwe. Hippos spend most of their day in water, but at night they can travel for kilometres in search of food. “Sometimes they graze into maize fields and that is when they come into contact with humans,” said Tinashe Farawo, spokesperson for Zimparks.
Zimbabwe’s elephant population has increased to 84,000, exceeding the carrying capacity of 50,000. Elephants often roam into communities destroying crops and attacking people. In 2017, 41 cases of elephants attacking people were reported. Among the people who were attacked last year was a tourist guide who was trampled and torn apart by a bull elephant called Mbanje in Zimbabwe before colleagues could come to his aid. The animal was shot dead.
Crocodiles are prevalent in Zimbabwe’s water bodies, especially small streams. Crocodile attacks are prevalent in Zimbabwe, with many cases going unreported due to the remoteness of some areas. Some 37 cases were reported last year, and in May this year, a couple was attacked while cruising the Zambezi River using an inflatable boat.
“We urge people not to use air-filled boats in crocodile infested areas. We have signs and warnings at all our national parks facility on the issue,” Tinashe Farawo, the Zimparks spokesperson said.
At least 30 people were killed by crocodiles in separate incidents countrywide since last year, while more than seven others were seriously injured
Buffaloes are among the big five African animals to be found in Zimbabwe. They are known for grazing in Zimbabwe’s savanna grasslands, but due to the shrinking grazing land, often encroach upon maize fields thereby coming into contact with humans. Buffaloes are short tempered by nature and often attack people. Some 35 cases of humans being attacked by buffaloes were reported in 2017.
Hyenas are found in most rural areas in Zimbabwe. Farmers have often complained that hyenas kill their livestock. Nine cases on human attacks were reported in 2017.
Baboons are often friendly in Zimbabwe, but cases of them attacking people are also common. In May this year, a Victoria Falls woman found a baboon mauling her one-year-old baby after it caught her playing with her sibling at home. The infant, who suffered severe cuts, survived. The baboons have become a menace in the resort town, breaking windows and doors in search of food.
According to the National Park authorities, in 2017 alone, 56 animals were killed in direct relation to attacks on humans. These include 14 crocodiles, eight elephants, ten hippos, six hyenas, 11 buffalo, one leopard and six lions.