By Judith Sibanda
Dete, March 15, 2016 – HUNGER ravaged villagers in the poor Dopota area in Matabeleland North were Sunday left cursing Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) rangers who killed a troublesome stray elephant that had devoured their crops before looting all the meat.
The jumbo was shot after being spotted by rangers when locals were trying to scare it away from their fields after reportedly escaping Hwange National Park.
Chief Nelukoba said the act was humiliating and a sign that Wildlife authorities did not have people at heart considering that the area was in severe drought state.
“People in that area are suffering. Many people have been injured by wild animals and every year they don’t harvest anything.
“I found them (rangers) slaughtering that troublesome elephant with the help of local villagers who ran to the scene after a gunshot but none of them got anything. They took away all the meat with them leaving villagers angry,” said Nelukoba
Nelukoba, who got an elephant trunk, said he was going to take the matter up with wildlife authorities Monday.
“I am the only one who got something because culturally, a trunk is for chiefs but if it wasn’t for that, I was not going to get anything too. We have agreed with my village heads to take this matter up to Hwange today (Monday).
“This is a humiliation and a clear sign that our people mean nothing to them. These people have lost tones of their harvest and domesticated animals to wild animals but they even failed to pay them back through elephant meat. People did not want tusks because they know that do not belong to them but at least meat to feed their hungry families,” fumed Nelukoba.
One woman said she had walked for 10km to reach the carcasses for food for her family.
She was among the disappointed big crowd that waited as the elephant was being slaughtered but got nothing.
“When I heard about the elephant meat, I walked 10km and crossed rivers to get to the elephant carcasses but when I got there, there were too many people with axes and knives helping the rangers. I could not even get to the meat,” said an emotional Kezia Ndlovu, who cried after having to return home empty-handed.
“It broke my heart to return home and see my children disappointed in me. I could not get any meat. There was nothing left.
“We were scrambling for few leftovers and many people suffered several cuts and bruises while fighting.
“My husband died 10 years ago and I struggle to put food on the table for my family,” said Ndlovu.
Meanwhile, Chief Nelukoba said on Sunday Zimparks had shot a troublesome lion in the same area.
“That lioness had four cubs and it was so violent to people and livestock. We lost over twenty goats and cattle while at times it will attack people in a space of two days.
“Villagers decided to attack it but it immediately charged at one villager called Abraham Ncube at Chibombo village and he is still admitted at Hwange Colliery hospital.” he said.
Zimparks Public Relations Officer, Caroline Washaya had not responded to questions sent to her on email.