Windhoek — As human-wildlife conflict intensifies, some subsistence farmers living on Impalila Island have been living in fear due to the presence of a hyena in the area that has been killing their livestock, mainly at night.
The residents say the predator has been living on the island for the past five years.
Although they say they see the hyena only at night, they don't know where it came from since the island is surrounded by water.
Impalila is an island at the far-eastern periphery of the Zambezi Region surrounded by waters of both the Zambezi and Chobe rivers and separating the four countries of Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
"We don't know whether it came from Botswana or Zambia. We have on several occasions been trying to ambush it but we are failing to gun it down. We are scared - maybe it's witchcraft because it's alone. We have lived here on the island for so many years since the 1960s but we have never seen this type of predator," a farmer who lost two cattle and many goats said.
He said the hyena is terrorizing the whole area, adding that all farmers with livestock are affected.
According to the farmer, it leaves a big wound on livestock after they are attacked.
The villagers said they reported the matter to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism but were told to kill it if they spot it.
"The ministry told us that anyone at Impalila can kill it, but we are failing. That is why we are suspecting it's witchcraft. We never had hyenas at Impalila since the 1960s. We don't know how it got here," the farmer noted.
The villagers said they even went to the extent of engaging the Ministry of Defence to help them put it down, but the soldiers informed them that they are not authorised to kill it.
Asked if people do not fear for their lives, the farmer said villagers do move around at night but it does not attack them, only the livestock.
He said it digs holes where it hides during the day and only comes out at night to go hunt.
Contacted for comment, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism spokesperson Romeo Muyunda said the matter is being handled at the regional level, as it did not yet reach their office.
He said all cases regarding wildlife conflict are reported to the ministry for statistical purposes and processing of claims, through the Game Product Trust Fund.
'We will look into the matter. People should not risk their lives by hunting down this predator. They should allow the authorities to do their job," he said.