Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe

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Zebras wreak havoc in Chiredzi

Zebras wreak havoc in Chiredzi

CHIREDZI WEST — When the heavens opened up this year, allowing him to have a bumper harvest he had last reaped more than 10 years ago, communal farmer Bettwell Mapuranga thought his food woes were over.

By Tatenda Chitagu

villagers-Leornard-Mukore,Agnes-Sekani-and-Areta-Makwara-stand-in-maize-field-with-maize-field-where-the-Zebras-have-been-grazing-since-they-were-left-at-Manzou-farm-last-week

Better still, the nearby Chiredzi River burst its banks-and blocked stray lions from Maware Ranch and Save Valley Conservancy from crossing to his area and devouring his beasts.

But Mapuranga, from area 1, Buffalo Ranch under Chief Tshovani, said the joy was short-lived as zebras started destroying his crops that were ripe for harvest.

“We used to have problems with lions last year. I lost two beasts to the lions last year and was left with no draught power. The lions ate my two beasts at night and I watched helplessly in the house as I was afraid that if I got out, they would turn on me.

“But this year, the lions could not cross Chiredzi River because of the good rains that meant that there is water in the river.

“We felt the rains were a blessing in two fronts, but now we have new problems as well. Zebras are on the prowl. I lost half of my maize harvest to zebras…as you can see my crop is destroyed,” he said, pointing to the destruction.

Now he has to guard his maize field to avoid further losses.

“I thought this year I would be food-sustainable given that there were good rains. But the fight is not yet over due to the zebra menace. The damage is very great and if you are not careful and if you do not guard your fields, you plant for the zebras,” he said.

But the zebras are not the only ones bringing him sleepless nights.

Crocodiles from the nearby Chiredzi River are also having their fair share of his little herd.

“Many villagers are losing sheep and goats almost every week. The crocodiles also attack cattle as they drink water in the river,” he said.

But the story does not end there. In rare cases, human lives have been lost to the crocodiles.

“A little girl from the area was mauled to death this year by crocodiles and she is still missing. Last year, a boy from the neighbouring village was attacked and all we found was his head. Every year, the crocodiles kill a person in the river as victims fetch water or do laundry,” he said.

Another villager from the area blasted the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) for not acting on the issue.

“We raised the issue with the National Parks but up to now they are yet to act. They should take human life seriously if they are not concerned about our livestock,” she said.

Efforts to contact Zimparks officials for comment were fruitless yesterday.

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