BY Thembelihle Mhlanga
Living in the communal lands of the district of Lupane characterised by picturesque natural features like the green forestry and the rich cropping soils well up for the routineous pasturing and cropping agriculture, is now a thorn prick in the flesh as the human and wildlife co-existence is now a thing of the past.
In the past villagers from across Lupane were enjoying the harmony with nature as they did not need to go to the Hwange National park for a game drive as a number of animal species would be spotted within their close proximity but causing no harm to the people.
Due to climate change that had reduced the food reserved for wild animals forcing them to seek for food in human settlements grazing their fields not just that but also cause some fatalities and the statistics are alarming, as both people and livestock fall victims of these animals.
The most common problematic animals are jumbos, hyenas and the lions, which terrorises the villagers’ crops and livestock respectively.
The Sotani Ward Councillor Mr. Major Mpala said it sad that the villagers of Sotani a living in dire poverty because of these animals that either graze their fields and or kill their livestock.
“These animals are a menace in this area as people lose their livestock and crops and sadly the responsible authority are just mute on action to eradicate this seemingly growing problem”, said Clr Mpala.
One villager of Sotani village Mr Elliot Ndlovu who have recently lost about six cattle to hyenas, said it is saddening that both Kusile Rural District Council (KRDC) and Forestry Company of Zimbabwe never bother themselves to come to the plight of villagers.
“It’s so sad that when we report our problem to KRDC and FCZ they throw spanners to each as the FCZ will tell us the area we are in is the haunt for these animals and not human beings, while the KRDC which collect levies, when these problem occur they refer us to the FCZ, meaning we are just resembling children without parents”, charged Ndlovu.
Another villager from Matshiya ward Ms Sithabile Ndlovu said in the past three cropping season she had all her field grazed by elephants.
“For past three season I have harvested nothing as the elephants have been coming to my field ad grazed to the ground all my crops, and be left with nothing” she said.
The KRDC however said at routineous periods they do Problem Animal Control (PAC) or sport hunting at their area of jurisdiction. One council official who requested anonymity said that they assist the communities as per on call if the animals invade their fields.
According the lead farmers in Lupane a total of about 300 hactres of crops is grazed by animals every year with a countless number animals being killed by the hyenas mostly, leaving the villagers in a critical food security and extreme poverty