Rogue Jumbo the Elephant terrorises Kariba. What is, however, unsettling the residents is that the problem animal often destroys houses and injures people. In a curious case of uneasy relations between humans and animals, an uncanny Kariba elephant has put communities in Nyamhunga and Mahombekombe suburbs on edge as it has developed a knack of entering people’s homes in search of food.
Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority (ZimParks) spokesperson Mr Tinashe Farawo said the Kariba case, which is being attended to, is one of over 1 000 cases of human-wildlife conflict that have been recorded since the beginning of the year. Over 50 deaths have been recorded countrywide. The notorious Kariba jumbo, residents said, is in the habit of budging into homes in the middle of the night before pillaging kitchen cabinets and fridges.
In a video circulating on social media platforms, Kariba residents said they were living in fear since the elephant gets violent whenever it targets a particular house. According to an unidentified Kariba resident in the circulating video, a man in one of the suburbs recently narrowly escaped death after the elephant flattened an ablution block while he was inside.
“We are in trouble with this elephant, it is breaking windows and property inside the houses,” she said. “Just nearby it destroyed a kitchen cabinet with everything inside. Here it destroyed a fowl run and the falling wall nearly destroyed the house. Only last week it destroyed another house and injured a child.”
Another resident claimed that the jumbo “opened” a cabinet and “took” sugar, flour and rice which were inside. The resident said the elephant cannot be restrained once it invades a home. “This elephant is very stubborn and notorious,” she said.
“It also destroyed a toilet while someone was inside. We do not know what else to do here in Kariba because we have reported the matter but no action is being taken.” Another Kariba resident identified as Hwini said his house had been destroyed by the stray elephant.
“The whole house has been destroyed. Please you should come and do something; if it means killing the elephant, then they should do so because it is now a huge menace.
“Everyone in the neighbourhood is complaining. We can no longer store food inside the house because the elephant will come and destroy,” said Hwini. Mr Farawo said stray elephants were a result of elephant overpopulation.
“It should be noted that human-elephant problems are not unique to Kariba. We have had these problems in Hwange, Tsholotsho, Bikita and other areas,” said Mr Farawo.
“The reason is overpopulation in our game parks. Our natural ecosystem can no longer carry the huge numbers of elephants that we have in the country, so it results in human-wildlife conflict.
“So far this year, over 50 people have been killed in human-wildlife conflicts, with 25 of those deaths coming from human-elephant conflict.” The authority, he added, has received about 1 000 distress calls, of which 700 were attended to.
“So this just shows how big this problem of overpopulation is,” he said. “The communities need to benefit from these wildlife resources so that we reduce the number of elephants while empowering the same communities.”
Human-wildlife conflict incidences between people and elephants are on the increase in Zimbabwe and other countries in the region. Zimbabwe now has over 85 000 elephants against a carrying capacity of about 55 000. This situation has seen elephants invading human settlements in search of food and water.
Source – Sunday Mail
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