Park residents demand compensation for lost crops

Speaking to The New Times, farmers adjacent to the park reported that despite the efforts to construct a wall around the edge of the park wild animals still render their farming efforts fruitless.

NORTHERN PROVINCE

KINIGI — Residents whose crops and property are continuously encroached on or destroyed by stray park animals from the Volcanoes National Park-PNV are demanding for compensation.

Speaking to The New Times, farmers adjacent to the park reported that despite the efforts to construct a wall around the edge of the park wild animals still render their farming efforts fruitless.

They cited buffalos, elephants, monkeys and mountain gorillas as some of animals encroaching on their crops, suggesting that the conflict between population and the animals remains unsolved.

“We experience food shortages in our families due to animal encroachment on our crops, buffalos are the most destructive and dangerous to our lives,’’ said Ezekiel Kaziboneye, a resident of Bisate cell Kinigi Sector. 

The 2008 report of the Ombudsman indicates the issue of non compensation of park residents whose crops are destroyed by animals is still unresolved.

The report to be presented to parliament today also states that residents whose relatives were killed by animals have not been compensated by the Rwanda Development Board’s conservation and Tourism department.

Whereas the 76 km buffer wall, connected to Uganda and DR Congo borders has halted the movement of  buffalos, farmers say the animals move through ravines or roll over the wall down to break into their crops.

“We can only harvest if we ensure day and night patrols over the crops, and during rainy seasons, we have to compete with the animals to ensure that we  harvest our crops,’’ Leonard Gacunga, from Ibyiwacu Cultural village, Nyabigoma cell said.

He suggested that, the park should be fenced with barbed wires, and the buffalo wall enlarged to stop the wild animals. 

When contacted, area park officials said that the issue of compensation for the destroyed crops is not legally and adequately catered for.

Janvier Kwizera, Community Conservation Warden, explained that the community involvement into the conservation campaign, especially the grouping of formers poachers, who maintain the buffer wall, has greatly cut down on the number of straying animals.

RDB supports those whose houses have been destroyed by animals, and meets the hospital bills for those injured by the animals.

However, due to the human-wild life conflict, 15 straying buffalos were killed by angry residents in 2006, after they had destroyed crops and property in Nyabigoma cell.
 
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