The Sunday News
Clementine Phulu, Sunday News Reporter
VILLAGERS in Bubi District, Matabeleland North Province were left counting their losses after a herd of stray elephants recently paid a visit to their community and destroyed acres of their maize crops.
The elephants were suspected to be from Dollar Wildlife Sanctuary and were now a cause for concern in the district with villagers saying if no action is taken as a matter of urgency, the district will soon be turned into a food basket case.
Bubi District chief executive officer Dr Paston Mlilo said although the district has had cases of human-wildlife conflicts they were worried with their escalation, especially when such visits were leaving the villager food-insecure with large herds of elephants going around destroying crops.
“We have a challenge as Bubi District. We have never had so many elephants like the ones that recently destroyed villagers’ crops. We are getting reports from different wards that they are as many as 20 and having calves with them and it’s a cause for concern. They are very stubborn, they cannot be chased away and they have destroyed crops in different places like Bona, Bubi Crescent and Pedise Valley and these are Wards 10, 14, 20 and 21.”
Dr Mlilo said they have sent their hunter to Bubi Crescent to help the communities to deal with the elephants and they have also spoken to the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority officers who have been dispatched to the communities.
A villager from Bubi Crescent Ward 21 who lost crops to stray elephants, Ms Mhlekazi Nkomo said the giant animals were a challenge in their community.
“We are no longer safe this side, we are living in fear. This year I was expecting good crop yields but due to these elephants I am no longer as expectant as I was. They have destroyed my crops. We try by all means to guard our fields but they come in large numbers that are scary, causing a lot of damage,” she said.
Ms Nkomo said they have realised that the elephants were divided into two groups.
“There is a group of white elephants which consists of 18 elephants and the other group with about 20 elephants. We are scared of these elephants. We try by all means to spend the day guarding our fields but still we are losing our crops. Recently they got into my field and destroyed my maize. We are scared as villagers, these elephants will end up coming to our homes,” she said.