By Chiedza Mutyavaviri
Chikombedzi — THE number of elephants at Gonarezhou National Park has exceeded the carrying capacity of the conservation park.
This was disclosed by the Senior Area Manager Evious Mpofu in a recent interview with the CAJ News Africa.
He said the park could only accommodate 9000 elephants, yet presently 11 000 elephants, congesting and straining resources at the wildlife sanctuary.
The huge number of elephants means Gonarezhou has one of the highest densities of elephants in Africa, up from 2000 in 1997.
This situation, he noted, affected not only elephants but other wildlife in the park as the grazing land was limited.
Mpofu said this was the major challenge the park faced at the moment, adding discussions were being held with stakeholders on how to address the problem.
“Killing the elephants is not an option to us, at the same time moving the elephants from the park to other areas is very expensive. However, they are other possible solutions to address this situation,” he said.
Mpofu said the park was in the process of creating good buffer zones which would allow the elephants to move from Gonarezhou to other areas such as Mozambique under the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park.
Mpofu also added Gonarezhou needed more land to accommodate the growing number of animals in the park, noting having a larger conservation park could improve tourism in Zimbabwe.
Gonarezhou has traditionally been regarded as a prime wilderness destination famed for its impressive landscapes and animals.
It boasts of Chilojo Cliffs among many other tourism attractions.
Gona reZhou is the second largest national park in Zimbabwe after Hwange.