Villagers in the Tiya area of Chimanimani are living in fear of lions that are believed to have escaped from Devure Range in Bikita and have reportedly killed three cattle in the past weeks.
The lions were first spotted in the Gwindingwi area in August, but have since moved further up into Tiya area where villagers believe they could end up moving into human settlements if they are not captured. Mr Tendai Tuso, a villager, said they had sent a distress call to the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) to deal with the cats.
"No one has seen the lions yet, but two villagers have already lost cattle to the beasts. When they were first reported in other areas in August, a team from Zimparks came, but could not capture them. They taught us what to do if we encounter the lions and how to enhance security around our pens. They told us that if the lions were not captured, they would naturally move from the colder to warmer areas on their own, but they have not done that," he said.
Since then, Mr Tuso said the lions had moved further into the district, raising concerns that they would eventually attack herdboys who might stumble upon them. He said Zimparks should intensify the search for the cats to ensure that no human life was lost, as well as to curb the loss of livestock. Zimparks spokesperson Mr Tinashe Farawo said the authority had already despatched a team to deal with the matter.
"Yes, we received information that there are a number of lions in the Gwindingwi area in Chimanimani and we have a team on the ground to track and capture them," he said.
"We, however, have not received any reports from the Tiya area. These might be the same beasts that our team has been searching for."
Mr Farawo urged villagers to report such cases to them as soon as they happen to ensure swift capture of the beasts to avoid loss of lives.
"We assure the villagers that our teams are on the ground and the problem will be solved as soon as we possibly can," he said.