Elephants terrorise Nhwali villagers

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By Mvelo Mthiyane Zondo 

NHWALI and Malibeng villagers in Gwanda South District are living in fear after a herd of
elephants invaded the area last week, it has been established.
The community campfire officer, Japson Makwecha Muleya, said villagers now feel unsafe due
to the presence of jumbos in their area.
“As villagers we are worried about the presence of a herd of elephants numbering 250 to 300.
“Although these animals have not killed humans, they have left villagers in fear. The elephants
have left some villagers counting their losses after damaging their fields and perimeter fences as
they just walk through the boundaries,” said Muleya.
“I have since reported this issue to the Department of Parks and Wildlife, but unfortunately the
officers are not well resourced to come and drive away these problematic animals.
“This is the third year living with these animals, they migrate from as far as Masera, Shobe and
Skomitshini areas,” he said.
He encouraged villagers not to travel during the night since these animals are nocturnal and
might be even more dangerous during the night since the herd has calves.
“This is now a perennial problem, elephants are very intelligent animals because they know
when the farming season begins and when the crops get ready for consumption and harvesting,”
said Muleya.
“At times reporting these animals to parks is just a procedure because officers will tell us that
these animals are not harmful unless provoked.
“As if that is not enough, elephants are causing food insecurity even during a good rainy season
because they harvest on behalf of farmers. The situation is not rosy,” he said.
Human-wildlife conflict is not only affecting Ward 24, but it is a nationwide problem.
During the dry season, competition for food and water intensifies, resulting in conflicts among
the animals.

For years some of these animals, especially elephants, have been straying into villages around
parks.
The invasion has led to loss of crops on farmland and lives across the country.
Gwanda Rural District Council, Environmental Officer, Sijabuliso Masango, confirmed the
presence of elephants in that area.
“I can confirm that there is a herd of elephants at Nhwali area and have since arranged with parks
offices to go and monitor the situation.
“Fortunately, there is nothing in the fields although villagers are fearing for their lives as these
animals are not predictable,” said Masango.
National Parks and Wildlife Management spokesperson, Tinashe Farawo, said they were still
investigating the issue.

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