A PRIDE of lions is reportedly wreaking havoc in villages outside Victoria Falls where 35 cattle and an unconfirmed number of goats and donkeys have been killed in two wards since December.
Villagers said recently that some of the lions are collared cats that stray from nearby sanctuaries where they are kept for research.
They allegedly sneak out of protected areas by digging some holes underneath the fence and stray into villages or grazing lands where they kill livestock before making their way back to their sanctuary.
Villages most affected by this human-wildlife conflict are Monde, Mvuthu, Ndlovu, Mpumelelo, Sidobe and Chikandakubi.
Chidobe headman Mr Jaheliduna Ndlovu popularly known as Mpisi said many villagers have been impoverished.
“A fortnight ago lions killed eight cattle in one day and last Monday they killed five belonging to one villager. We have noticed that some of the lions are collared and they have been straying into villages and killing cattle with 17 killed this month.
“Last December they killed 18 cattle from our area and one of the victims is village head Zikhali whose herd was attacked in the grazing area,” said Mr Ndlovu.He appealed for an urgent permanent solution to the human-wildlife conflict which he said if not addressed will leave villagers poorer.
“This is a situation which needs everyone’s input. We once suggested that we set up scouts’ teams that will be stationed in the community to protect livestock but some stakeholders didn’t buy the idea,” said Mr Ndlovu.
He said most livestock including goats and donkeys are attacked in grazing areas near the villages.
People from villages adjacent to Zambezi National Park drive their livestock into the wildlife infested parks area in search of grazing pastures.
Some of the grazing land was fenced off by some tour operators and villagers have appealed to the Hwange Rural District Council (HRDC) to revive the Communal Areas Management Programmes for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) programme. HRDC Kachechete ward 3 councillor Givemeagain Moyo said: “Communal land is limited hence villagers’ fields are right on the edge of the park while livestock graze in the forest land and game park where they encounter lions. Soon it will be harvesting time and elephants will also come down to destroy crops.
“What is needed is a fence or to drive these animals deep into the bush where they won’t come back.” Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority Spokesperson Mr Tinashe Farawo said no formal report was made to the authority on the alleged cases.