Jumbo menace hits Otjombinde

12 Mar 2014 17:50pm
GOBABIS, 12 MAR (NAMPA) – Elephants, suspected to have crossed into Namibia from neighbouring Botswana, have been wreaking havoc at villages adjacent to the border fence in the Omaheke Region’s Otjombinde Constituency.
Villagers told Nampa that the elephants, estimated to be a herd of about five, have destroyed vital water infrastructure and one village, while hordes of crops were destroyed by the jumbos in another village.
The elephants are suspected to have crossed into Namibia a week ago.
Although there have not been any reports of physical harm to humans in the constituency, villagers fear that it is only a matter of time before the elephants become aggressive and hurt humans.
Narrating the damage caused by the elephants to his crops, Kapanda Marenga, who farms at Okomukaru village located along the Namibia-Botswana border fence, says he has suffered insurmountable damage to his crops and will find it hard to recoup such a loss before the winter season.
“We planted some crops to avoid our livestock from dying from drought as winter approaches, but all these crops were trampled on by the elephants. We have literary nothing left to help us through the oncoming dry season,” he said
Marenga said the elephants have also destroyed the local water point’s engine which pumps water for the consumption of both livestock and humans, by uprooting it from its base.
The damage to the crops comes at a time when the Omaheke Region is slowly recovering from one of the worst dry spells in recent memory.
The villagers have called on the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to come to their aid by driving the jumbos back into Botswana.
But the Chief Warden at the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Kasongo Buchane has ruled out such a possibility at present.
Speaking to this news agency on Wednesday, Buchane confirmed receiving reports of the presence of the elephants in Otjombinde, but said a large part of the constituency is a conservancy in which the free movement of animals is encouraged.
He noted that the ministry, through funds allocated to conservancies, will only be able to cover damage caused by the elephants as a result of human-animal conflict.
“Conservancies use elephants and other animals for trophy hunting purposes, which in turn generates funds for them. We are monitoring the situation and will act immediately if the elephants become aggressive to humans,” he said.
According to information availed to Nampa, the elephants have also been observed in villages in the Epukiro Constituency, which borders Otjombinde.
Buchane and his team will travel to Okomukaru in the Otjombinde Constituency to assess the situation on the ground, although he did not say when this would happen.