14 May 2019

Botswana: Elephants - Nightmare to Kebopile Family

Gungwe — Click to see more pictures

On the morning of May 3, this year, Marssaia Kebopile and his wife walked to their farm with vigour but the sight that greeted them as they approached their farm entrance was a peculiar one.

A glimpse at the gate confirms that they had uninvited overnight guests in their farm.

The scene looks familiar; gate squashed and swung over, trees wrecked and a heap of stools on the ground, confirming a visit by elephants.

The jumbos destroyed everything on sight.

Mr Kebopile's farm is located in Gungwe village in North East district and just less than a kilometer from Botswana- Zimbabwe boundary.

For years, it was an anomaly for elephants to roam the North East region terrains but that has become "A once upon a time tale" as elephants roam and traverse the border villages from Mbalambi, Gungwe, Moroka, Matsiloje and Matshelagabedi to name a few.

The Kebopile family has fallen victim to destructions caused by elephants which has now become a yearly occurunce.

Mr Kebopile narrates that upon realising that elephants had trespassed into their farm overnight, he remembered that they had gathered sorghum cobs and marotse under a tree with a plan to take them home during the course of the week.

However, their efforts came to nought as the elephants preempted them and treated themselves to their harvest.

"Elephants have become a nightmare, it's like they are intuitive or something. we harvested marotse the other day with a plan to take them home and now its zero."

He stated that the animals devoured everything that was under the tree and proceeded to the one and half hectare that was planted maize, millet, watermelons and more marotse.

The farmer indicated that they only salvaged a truck load of marotse and three baskets of sorghum from the leftovers that the elephants missed due to darkness.Standing hopelessly on his farm, Mr Kebopile says he is traumatised by elephants as they had turned his farm into a banquet of some sort.

The farmer holds the view that serious interventions should be taken to chase away these elephants permanently because they will continue to traumatize them year in year out.

He states that he fears for their lives in a situation where the animals decide to visit the farm during the day and find them working in the farm.

Fear is painted in his face, even the bustle of the trees and a moo of the cows startles him.

"Modumonyana le o utlwile akere fa morago ga thaba, a re ipaakanyetseng go sia" loosely translated "Did you hear that noise behind the hill let's get ready to run," he said.

He notes that the Department of Wildlife and National Parks officers had in the past years assessed the damage caused by the elephants, adding that they were expecting these assessments once again.

Mr Kebopile indicates that living in the border villages has become a nightmare for residents because they cannot move freely adding that when the sun sets everyone rushes home for safety.

Kgosi Sonnyboy Buka of Gungwe reveals that he was one of the victims of the recent damages caused by elephants. He says the animals had stomped on and destroyed his farm fence as they were traversing to the farms in search for crops.

He explains that he received the first report of elephant's destructions on May 1 and has since received a new report every day for the whole week where over seven residents were affected.

Kgosi Buka states that it was reported that a herd of 25 elephants were seen at Mbalambi dam before proceeding to the farms in Gungwe village.

He says the Departments of Wildlife officers continue to assess and compensate those affected however stating that he believes that permanent measures should be taken to chase the animals away.

Department of Wild and National Parks officer in charge in Masunga office, Mr Malatsi Mamani said their office received a report that about 25 elephants were seen in Mbalambi but could not confirm if that was true or not.

Mr Mamani advised residents to be vigilant at all times when they walk in the bush or working at the farms. He further called on people to always tell their families when they go to farms and also have someone to accompany them.

He said it had become common knowledge that elephants were in the North East region which was a new thing hence the department had held meetings to raise awareness on this.

Mr Mamani says in a case where people spot elephants within the village, they should beat drums to alert others adding that this act would also chase the animals.

The officer stated that they had deployed officers in Mbalambi to attend to cases around that area, noting that they continue to fire gun shots to chase them away but were stubborn.

<i>Source : BOPA</i>

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