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Leopard wreaks havoc in Umguza, kills more than 20 goats

Two farmers from Umguza District in Matabeleland North lost more than 20 goats to a stray leopard.

The incident happened at Hellen Val Block N in Umguza on Saturday last week.

One of the affected farmers, Lidion Sibanda of Plot Number 2 told CITE the leopard attacked goats belonging to him and his neighbour, Mose Sibanda whose plot is adjacent to his.

“At first nine goats were killed and we didn’t know what had done that because the carcasses were not ravaged. The predator would kill the goats then drag the carcasses for some distance and leave them without eating so when we discovered this, most of the goats were decomposing,” he said.

Sibanda said they reported the incident to the police who could ascertain what had killed the goats and advised the farmers to inform the National Parks and Wildlife Management Department.

“We made a report to Saucerstown Police Station and we ferried the police officers to come investigate. After seeing the carcasses, the police were unsure what had done that and advised us to contact rangers from the National Parks and Wildlife Management Department” he noted.

The rangers from the National Parks and Wildlife Management Department confirmed that the goats were killed by the leopard, Sibanda said.

“The rangers tried to track down the leopard but abandoned the operation due to bad weather, as it was raining heavily. They also suspected the leopard could be having cubs and was probably in a defensive state,” Sibanda said.

The two farmers said people and livestock in the area no longer felt safe following the incident.

“We are appealing to responsible authorities to kill the leopard before we lose more livestock and human beings. Due to these attacks, I and my neighbour lost goats worth more than US$2000 and some of the goats were pregnant,” said the other farmer.

Reached for comment, ZimParks Spokesperson Tinashe Farawo, confirmed the incident and said it happened in Ward 7 of Umguza and had engaged the legislator of the area about dangers of wildlife.

“It is unfortunate that villagers continue to lose their lives, livestock and livelihood to predators. This is happening across the country, go to Matabeleland South – Bulilima, Mangwe, Betibridge, go to Mashonaland Central – Guruve, – Mbire go to Manicaland -Chipinge, go to Masvingo – Zaka and Matabeleland North , the same happens in Tsholsotho and Hwange,” he said.

Last week, an 81-year-old man from Zaka died after he was mauled and trampled by a hippopotamus that charged at him while herding cattle.

Farawo attributed the encroachment of animals to communities to the ballooning numbers of wildlife.

“If there is no habitat and food in the wildlife’s protected areas, animals move into communities in search of that. Usually this happens in drier months such as in August to the onset of November when the rains start and that is when we normally record such losses,” he said.

The ZimParks spokesperson also encouraged farmers and communities to report to the department immediately after such incidents happen.

“Half of the time we hear of such reports from the press.  I know it is important to raise awareness but such reports on wildlife attacks have to come to the authority first so that we act fast,” Farawo said.

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