Thirsty lions, buffaloes invade villages

26th November 2015


By Peter Madiya - Reporter

Residents of Manxotae and surrounding villages are living in fear following a sudden invasion by lions in pursuit of weak and thirsty buffaloes which have infested the surrounding villages in search of water.

When The Midweek Sun arrived in the concerned villages, herds of buffaloes and elephants were seen, in their hundreds roaming around homesteads competing with human beings for the scarce water from the wells dug in the river bed. Regional Wildlife Officer for the Central District, Onalenna Kgathi, revealed to The Midweek Sun that the sudden influx of lions in the concerned villages is due to trailing the dehydrated and weak buffaloes as well as looking for water.

“When herds of buffaloes and elephants are on their migration routes, lions trail them to feed on the weak ones hence the current situation experienced by the villages in the Nata area,” she said. A farmer whose six cattle were recently eaten by lions near the almost dry village dam, Mopedi Ntuane was lost for words as he said that the lions which have invaded their cattle posts and share a water drinking hole with their cattle have been killing and eating his cattle.

“So far I have only managed to find the carcasses of only three of my animals as the rest of them were completely devoured by the lions. Just last week, my herd boys found lions eating one of my animals and the wildlife officers were called to chase away the lions. Unfortunately, one cannot claim compensation for the killing of one’s animal by lions from the Wildlife Department without any proof which includes the remains of the carcass. I will be compensated for the three animals whose carcasses I located,” he said.

Another farmer Tshireletso Ngaka who lost four beasts and one horse finds it hard to accept the loss especially because, he said, it was not the first time he had lost his livestock to predators. “Over the years, I have lost count of the number of my livestock eaten by lions but this year things are bound to become worse because, due to the drought and shortage of water, our cattle share the same drinking holes with lions thereby making it easy for livestock to be eaten at the drinking hole,” he said Ngaka.

He accused  the Wildlife Department of taking a very long time to compensate them, he also complained that their cash compensation is not enough since it has got nothing to do with the value of the animal eaten. Ngaka informed this publication that a horse on the market is sold for cash in the region of P7 000-00 whereas the government gives them P3, 500 for the loss of a horse to the predators. Ntuane attributed the invasion of villages by wild animals to water shortage in the region.

He said they had always anticipated it since there are no dams or boreholes out in the bush far away from villages which can be used by thirsty wild animals.“Farmers around the area have long advised the Wildlife Department to keep away wild animals from villages by constructing many dams in the bush where animals live far away from people but to no avail. Once these animals get thirsty, it is logical for them to look for water all over the place hence they end up tracing it to the nearby villages,” he said.

Another victim, Dona Amos could neither hide her disappointment at the current turn of events. “These lions will leave us empty handed as they are all over the place. Our cattle are not used to them and as such, they eat as they like since we are not allowed by the law to touch them. If we were given the permission, we could have shot some to scare them far away from human settlement, but we cannot do that as we will be locked up. Animals seem to be more important to the government than its citizens,” she said.

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