Bulawayo News24

FARMERS in the Chibuwe/Musikavanhu irrigation scheme have appealed to Government for assistance in controlling elephants that are destroying their summer crop.

The elephants are straying from Save Conservancy and destroying the maize crop and banana plantations in the irrigation scheme.

The farmers said they were trying to chase away the marauding elephants which invade their farms during the night by using fires. Mr Bongai Vhutuza said food security for the local community was at risk as elephants have destroyed a large area of maize fields so far.

“Our crops are under threat as elephants are straying from Save Conservancy looking for green vegetation in our fields.

“We are trying to chase away these elephants using our traditional methods such as setting up fires and lighting firecrackers but the elephants no longer respond to these,” he said.

Another farmer, Mr Farai Munyire, said Government should intervene as it was now a perennial problem.

“We periodically call the Department of Wildlife Management to come and chase the elephants away but due to the limited of resources sometimes they do not come. We need standby game rangers who are stationed in our community so that they help us because we are risking our lives when we try to chase these elephants ourselves,” he said.

Chipinge Rural District Ward 2 Councillor Charles Mugidho said restoring the perimeter fence around the Save Conservancy was the only way to stop the menace.

“The perimeter fence along the Save Conservancy was vandalised long back. Part of the fence was stolen and the other part was washed away during floods that hit the area in previous years.

“If the fence is not repaired, we will continue to have human-wildlife conflicts. The elephants are dangerous as we have lost some villagers during the attacks,” said Cllr Mugidho.

The Department of Parks and Wildlife Management could not be reached for comment.