By Dumisani Nkomo (Habakkuk Trust Trust CEO)
Elephants are on the rampage in Jutshume village, Bulilima Ward 10, destroying the crop remnant that had survived the drought.
The herd suspected to be numbering five has since invaded six fields, consuming produce and destroying fences in the process. Villagers are living in fear as memories of a tragic human and wildlife conflict incident that claimed a life in the neighboring ward last year linger.
The recent attacks come at a time when communities and the nation are grappling with the COVID-19 epidemic. Destruction of crops coupled with the closure of borders to curb COVID-19 will certainly plunge communities into an early hunger crisis as a significant population relies on diaspora grocery remittances to augment food reserves.
The Habakkuk Trust Community Advocacy Action Team Convenor for the area, Mr. Linos Khumalo said the local Councillor has since alerted Bulilima Rural District Council.
“While awaiting help, villagers bang tins and crack whips to scare the elephants from their homesteads”, said Khumalo, who is also a village head in the area.
The seasonal migration of the giant mammals is a common occurrence during this time of the year, resulting in loss of livelihood and destruction of infrastructure.
Habakkuk Trust is currently assisting the community in coming up with ways of enhancing a timely response from the relevant authorities. The organization is also working with the community on enhancing local level mechanisms of ensuring enhanced community participation and involvement in natural resource governance.
The Parliament of Zimbabwe recently proposed birth control to curb the rising population of elephants has exacerbated cases of human-wildlife conflict.