The devastating effects of Cyclone Idai in Masvingo province-Bikita-has just come to compound tragedy of an already ravaged habitat which is grappling to contain yet another problem brought about by marauding wild animals which destroy crops and animals and also posing a threat to human life.
The animals stray from the Save Conservancy.
While the death toll has which risen to seven,309 villagers left homeless and 3412 homesteads wrecked by the Cyclone can not be overlooked,the effects of marauding animals can not be underestimated.
The proximity of the Bikita district to the Save Conservancy which is one of the largest game reserves in Africa could have brought a sigh of relief in terms of development to the community because of tourists who thronged the area,rather villagers are making frantic efforts to curb destruction of crops and domestic animals which is leaving villagers even more impoverised than before.
The Conservancy is vast comprising 750,000 acres of diverse wildlife habitat.
Animals are not confined to one smaller space and as a result not well habituated to humans therefore wild.
From 2017 up to date the community has lost more than 1000 cattle to lions and hundreds of tonnes of crops to baboons and birds amongst wild animals that are wreaking havoc in the mountaineous area.
Bikita East Member of parliament Johnson Madhuku castigated the conservancy for profiteering on the expense of the community.
He also appealed to the game reserve to build an electrical fence along the perimeter of the conservancy.
“You can imagine over 1000 cattle being marauded in two wards within a space of two years.They are making those people poorer than before and moreover their harvest are extremely affected because wild animals,particularly elephants come and eat their crops before they are ripe.So we are appealing to the Conservancy operators to set up an electric fence”
“I am appealing to government to say Conservancy operators are the beneficiaries,they are the one running the business but at the same time wild animals are coming out to the villages they are actually making people poorer than before” appealed Madhuku.
He also said wild animals like lions that have strayed from the reserve are posing a threat to human life since the are now staying and even breed in mountains near the villages.
Madhuku also added that efforts to engage the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority seems not end the scourge since the sometimes say they are not fully equiped to deal with the wild animals or sometime just come and shoot one animal just to scare them away.
Ward 24 Councillor Chipo Munyoro echoed the same sentiments as Madhuku saying efforts to engage the Conservancy management over the straying animals were futile.
“Efforts to engage the Conservancy over the straying animals has remained futile over the years”
“We are losing our crops and cattle to wild animals but the management pretends as if nothing is happening” lamented Munyoro.
An elderly men Dzerendende Moyo who lost two amongst three huts to the cyclone said that they have lost their cattle to wild animals.
“As you see we have got nothing here,our animals were eaten by wild animals,my huts were destroyed and I am only left with one which I am sharing with my wife and son who is also married”said Dzerendende.
However problems bedeviling the people of Bikita seems not to have solution in the long run and they have to live in their precarious situation a bit longer.
Bikita Acting District Administrator Mr Innocent Matingwina said that they have no land to resettle people.
“At the moment we dont have place to resettle our people but we are looking in the long term solutions but we are handicapped by shortage of resources”
“As you can see we are overwhelmed by donations but we are recieving mainly foodstuffs,clothes and blankets.We also need building material to build strong houses for those displaced”said Matingwina.