Stray elephants leave Mutale villagers fearing for their lives (South Africa)


Dovhani Nengovhela, Review Online  

Date Published

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LIMPOPO: Stray elephants have become a regular feature at Sigonde and surrounding villages in the Mutale area.

These villages are situated close to the Kruger National Park and the Zimbabwean border from where the elephants are assumed to escape through broken fences.

Villagers are frequently confronted by these giants, who often wander into the streets and pose a danger to the residents. It is alleged that another herd of elephants was spotted in the area recently.

Although residents said that they had not attacked anyone, the Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism was called in once again to send their rangers from the Kruger National Park to relocate the animals.

In December 2019, an elephant was killed by rangers at Sigonde, and many of the locals have been left traumatised by incidents in which people had been trampled by the great beasts.

In April last year, lions were seen in the area, which caused a frenzy among villagers.

One of the local farmers, Suzan Radzuma, said roaming elephants had destroyed her crops. They came so close she said, that one stood right next to her house.

According to Radzuma, many local farmers fall victim to elephants destroying their crops. She has called on the department to see to it that the fences get reinforced. Oscar Manyuha, who is also from the area, said that residents are worried about elephants that wandered into their village, seemingly after having crossed the Zimbabwean border.

He said the problem was the lack of a border fence between the two countries on the eastern side. “These elephants move in from Zimbabwe to our area. They destroy our fields, which costs us a lot of money.”

Manyuha said the wild animals made residents feel unsafe and scared. “Our lives are in danger. We do not feel safe at all. We had to run for our lives after we saw the elephants here in our streets.”

Zaid Kalla, department spokesperson, said they are aware of the elephants in the area, and that a team of rangers had traced the elephants. The animals have been moved back across the Zimbabwean border. He added that the rangers were staying close by to monitor the situation.

“We call on residents to call the community leaders, should the elephants be spotted again.”