In Summary
  • Authorities recorded 311 animal attacks on people last year, up from 195 in 2018.

  • The attacks have been blamed on a devastating drought in Zimbabwe which has seen hungry animals breaking out of game reserves, raiding human settlements in search of food and water.

Hwange

Zimbabwean villager Dumisani Khumalo appeared to be in pain as he walked gingerly towards a chair under the shade of a tree near his one-room brick shack.

The 45-year-old was attacked by a buffalo days earlier, and he was lucky to be on his feet.

Wild animals in Zimbabwe were responsible for the deaths of at least 36 people in 2019, up from 20 in the previous year.

"I thank God that I survived the attack," said Khumalo with a laugh, making light of the fact that the buffalo almost ripped off his genitals.

Authorities recorded 311 animal attacks on people last year, up from 195 in 2018.

The attacks have been blamed on a devastating drought in Zimbabwe which has seen hungry animals breaking out of game reserves, raiding human settlements in search of food and water.

"The cases include attacks on humans, their livestock and crops," said national parks spokesman Tinashe Farawo.

He said elephants caused most fatalities, while hippos, buffalos, lions, hyenas and crocodile also contributed to the toll.

Hwange National Park, which is half the size of Belgium, is Zimbabwe's largest game park and is situated next to the famed Victoria Falls. The park is not fenced off.

Animals breach the buffer and "cross over to look for water and food as there is little or none left in the forest area," Farawo said

Khumalo vividly remembers the attack.

He was walking in a forest near his Ndlovu-Kachechete village to register for food aid, when he heard dogs barking.

Suddenly a buffalo emerged from the bush and charged, hitting him in the chest and tossing him to the ground.

It went for his groin and used its horn to rip off part of the skin around his penis.

Khumalo grabbed the buffalo's leg, kicked it in the eye and it scampered off.

Villagers in Zimbabwe's wildlife-rich but parched northwestern region are frequently fighting off desperately hungry game.

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