September 26, 2019
A herd of about 70 elephants invaded the Musese green scheme farm in Kavango West and destroyed an estimated 35 tonnes of wheat.
According to farm supervisor Severino Sinonge Fafa the elephants entered the farm on Monday evening at around 19:00, after they damaged the fence.
A visit to the farm yesterday morning revealed damaged wheat crops and fresh elephant dung. Fafa said they had to use warning shots and flashlights to scare off the elephants, an exercise which took about six hours. “The elephants damaged the fence and entered the farm, where they destroyed about 35 tonnes of wheat crops. We had to chase them out by firing warning shots and using flashlights, and we managed to get them to leave by 01:00 the following day,” Fafa said.
He described the elephants as aggressive and not easy to chase off. “They were very aggressively attacking us. We could have been killed; luckily we all managed to be vigilant,” he said.
Fafa said elephants invade the farm frequently, saying a 45-hectare maize plantation had also been destroyed by the animals.
“The farm is invaded every second day by these elephants,” he said. Kavango West governor Sirkka Ausiku, Kavango West Swapo coordinator David Hipulwa Hamutenya, Musese constituency councillor Sakeus Kudumo and environment ministry staff visited the farm on Tuesday to investigate the damage. Fafa said they agreed to have an extensive meeting next Tuesday at the farm.
He expressed concern over the regular elephant invasions, saying jobs are on the line if government does not assist in addressing the issue.
“If this continues, the farm will make a loss and some of us will lose our jobs. We call on government to help us address this issue, so that we are not thrown into the unemployment pool,” Fafa said.
Environment ministry spokesperson Romeo Muyunda said the issue of elephants terrorising Musese is not new, as incidents of this nature have occurred in the past and that discussions had taken place. Commenting on Monday’s incident, Muyunda said they were not well-informed in terms of what had transpired.
He said the ministry’s compensation policy only applied to communal farms and not commercial farms like Musese.
“The compensation policy only caters for communal areas. What we always encourage is for commercial farmers to put in place measures that will mitigate human-wildlife conflict issues,” he said.
Muyunda also made reference to the absence of an environment impact assessment (EIA) when the farm was established, something he said could have informed the owner about mitigation measures.