Luthando Mapepa Chipinge Correspondent
A PRIDE of lions suspected to have strayed from the Save Conservancy is terrorising Chipinge villagers where the big cats have already killed several cattle, goats and donkeys, among other domestic animals.
Villagers who spoke to The Manica Post this week said their worst fears were that the lions might soon target people, especially school-going children.
About 30 cattle in Chibuwe and Middle Sabi areas have since fallen victims to the big cats.
Mr Abort Jeza, of Ward 20, who lost his herd of cattle on Monday, said the lions strayed from the porous Save Conservancy and invaded their grazing lands.
“We have a serious problem of stray lions from the Save Conservancy which are roaming in Chibuwe and Middle Sabi areas. The lions are wreaking havoc in these areas, killing livestock.
“We are left with no option on where to graze our cattle. The whole area along the Save River, which encompasses our communal grazing land, has been invaded by lions. The lions are breeding and their numbers continue swelling. The predators are no longer returning to the game park because they have tasted our cattle, which are easy prey.
“We are living in perpetual fear as some of the villagers have been attacked while looking for their cattle. These lions also draw closer our homes during the night, killing our goats,” he said.
Another villager, Mr Ndega Mbezura said farmers who lost livestock to the wild cats should be compensated by the responsible authorities.
“More than 1 000 domestic animals have been killed by lions since the vandalism of the perimeter fence at the Save Conservancy. The conservancy is a business venture that is making a lot of money from the wild animals which are attacking our cattle. What worries us most is that nothing is being done to repair the perimeter fence so that these animals do not stray into our grazing lands, killing our domestic animals.
“Government should consider compensating those farmers who lost their animals because cattle are our only source of wealth,” he said.
Chipinge Rural District Council representative for Ward 2, Clr Charlse Mugidho said he had called for an all stakeholders meeting with conservancy authorities but nothing has materialised.
“Year-in year-out, we engage the conservancy authorities, but nothing is being done to drive away these lions. Sometimes they told us that they have no resources.
“We are calling on Government to urgently consider erecting the perimeter fence at the conservancy to bring this to an end,” said Clr Mugidho.
Zimparks spokesperson Mr Tinashe Farawo was not readily available for a comment, but recently warned members of the public to desist from attempting to drive away wild animals without professional guidance.
Mr Farawo said over the past four years more than 200 people have died as a result of human wildlife conflicts, 40 percent of them due to human-elephant conflict.