In a statement on Sunday, Damas Ndumbaro, the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, said the elephants could wreak havoc in villages in Namtumbo and Tunduru districts in southern Tanzania’s Ruvuma region, reports Xinhua news agency.
“A recent satellite survey has shown that about 200 elephants have strayed from the Nyerere National Park and could cause devastation in the villages,” said Ndumbaro on a visit to six villages that have been raided by the tuskers.
He said the encroachment of wildlife protected areas by livestock keepers was one of the reasons that forced the elephants to stray from their habitats.
Ndumbaro said elephants avoided mixing with livestock because they were allergic to chemicals used in treating the livestock.
The Minister said another reason that forced the elephants to stray from their habitats was crops farmed near the wildlife protected areas attracting the elephants.
Ndumbaro said incidents of stray elephants killing villagers and destroying farm crops were on the increase despite government efforts to control the animals.
Tanzania accounts one of Africa’s most significant remaining elephant populations, the only larger population being found in Botswana, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society.
In 1976, numbers in Tanzania stood at 316,000, but major declines in the late 1980’s and especially since 2009, driven by an upsurge in the illegal trade in ivory, have decimated the population which today stands at roughly 45,000.