ANNUALLY buffaloes in Antelope Island close to Kariba face a life threatening situation due to diminishing grazing land triggered by fluctuation of water levels in Lake Kariba.
According to environment experts, climate change in any given region has effects on lakes and its effect on environmental instability changes process of rainfall, temperature, evaporation and sunshine causing fluctuation of water levels on lakes. Nevertheless, the Kariba community has not left the fate of buffaloes on Antelope Island to nature.
As a result, for the past six years, communities in Kariba in a bid to save the buffaloes create feeding points where they drop hay to mitigate the dire situation.
Working hand in glove with Parks and Wildlife, the Kariba Animal Welfare Fund Trust (KAWFT) formed by Kariba communities has maintained the feeding stations on Antelope Island which starts the feed in May ending in the rainy season.
One of the members of KAWFT, Debbie Ottman said they came up with the feeding scheme to ensure that animals in the island stay fed until the rainy season.
“Concentrates and hay were taken out on a daily basis during feeding, this was necessary as the baboons, hippo and occasional visiting elephants get to eat most of the food if left in large quantities. In 2011 and 2012 we recorded few losses due to starvation, but this was kept in check as the feeding started in May. Feeding continued up to the start of the rainy season,” said Ottman.
Ottman added that sometime in 2015 due to low water levels in Lake Kariba, the buffaloes managed to reach mainland after being confined on Antelope Island for more than six years.
“This was a joyful moment as they needed a good change in diet, new blood and a good run. They continued to move on and off the island until the Lake level increased at the beginning of the year,” she said.
KAWFT despite its other challenging duties of anti-poaching patrols and creating community awareness about animal welfare, still monitors the buffaloes which are now back in the Island.