Zimbabwe: Mopani Harvesting Expedition Ends in Tragedy

30 March 2020

A 58-year-old woman harvesting mopani worms was trampled to death by an elephant while two other villagers watched helplessly on Saturday morning in Lukange, Beitbridge East.

Elisa Chivalaula met her death in a bush area near Dite, which is infested with the mopani worms (mashonzha/amacimbi), while in the company of Ouma Moyo (36) and Selina Ndou (70).

Police said Chivalaula got into trouble after running into a herd of elephants.

Police officer commanding Beitbridge District Chief Superintendent Tichaona Nyongo said the matter was being treated as sudden death.

"Indications are that on Saturday, 28 March, she left her homestead intending to go and harvest mopani worms in a bush about seven kilometres from her homestead in the company of Ouma Moyo (36) and Selina Ndou (70) both from the same village," he said.

"While fetching the mopani worms, they found themselves in the midst of a herd of elephants, prompting them to run away in different directions.

"Unfortunately, one elephant caught up with the now deceased and trampled her to death in full view of Ndou who was hiding in the bushes."

The matter was reported at the ZRP Dite Police Base, leading to the recovery of her body.

Chief Supt Nyongo said no foul play was suspected and that a post mortem had been waived by a local magistrate.

"As police, we urge people to be highly vigilant as they move around in the bushes, especially during the time of harvesting these mopani worms," he said. "Precious lives are lost as a result of fatal attacks by wild animals."

The incident occurs a few months after a six year old boy from Chituripasi area under Beitbridge East constituency was attacked and killed by an elephant while his sister watched helplessly.

The boy was coming from a pre-school in the company of an elder sister and another minor when they came across the jumbo.

After the attack, the elephant stood guard for a while before disappearing towards the Limpopo River.

Elephants have become a perennial menace in areas along the borders with Botswana (in the west) and South Africa (in the east) where they trample on people or destroy irrigation equipment and crops.

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