The Herald (Harare)

1 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Wild Animals Wreak Havoc On Cane Farmers

Masvingo — Marauding wild animals have destroyed nearly 1000 hectares of sugar cane at Mkwasine Estates and surrounding areas in Chiredzi, severely crippling operations of hundreds of resettled farmers in the area.

Wild animals such as elephants, buffaloes, baboons and monkeys from Save Valley Conservancy, Gonarezhou National Park and other private wild life sanctuaries have been roaming freely in the sugar cane estates in Mkwasine destroying vast swathes of cane crop in the process.

Over 500 resettled farmers are affected.

Zimbabwe Sugarcane Development Association chairman Mr Edmore Veterai yesterday said hundreds of farmers at Mkwasine Estates and surrounding areas were facing a bleak farming season as result of the damage caused by wild animals.

Mr Veterai said there was need for contingency measures to be taken to salvage the farmers' operations, which are on the verge of collapse.

"On average each of the hundreds of affected farmers has since the beginning of this year lost about 45 percent of their cane crop to wild animals which are roaming freely in the Lowveld.

"The wild animals are elephants, buffaloes, baboons and monkeys which our investigations have proved they are coming from Save Valley Conservancy, Gonarezhou National Park and private game parks in the Lowveld," said Mr Veterai.

He said they had already engaged the National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority to intervene and allow farmers to shoot the marauding wild animals.

"The worst affected farmers are in Mkwasine, Mapanza, and Porepore sugar estates and most of the cane farmers might record heavy loses and fail to repay bank loans if the problem of rampaging wild animals is not urgently attended to," Mr Veterai said

The Zimbabwe Sugarcane Development Association said farmers were raising funds to set up a perimeter fence that would stop wild animals from prowling on their sugar cane.

Communities around the wildlife-rich Save Valley Conservancy and the Gonarezhou National Park have over the past few years borne the brunt of wild animals that are roaming freely and terrorising them after the collapse of a perimeter fence that used to provide a barrier between the communities and wildlife.

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