Plumtree villagers in fear of stray lions

Villagers in Mbimba, Plumtree and surrounding areas in Matabeleland South, are now living in fear after discovering paw prints of three lions.

Several villagers who spoke to CITE said lions frequently attacked and preyed on their livestock while others claimed that a conservancy manager, Adam Bristow, was responsible for bringing the lions into the area.

Bristow, however, denied the claims and said there were lions nearby as the villages in that area were bordered by a wildlife concession in Botswana and Hwange National Park.

“To be absolutely clear, this is not the first time we have had these wild and false allegations, we absolutely did not introduce lions to the area. On the Botswana side, it is a wildlife concession, as well as Hwange National Park, so we assume lions disperse naturally from these areas,” said the conservancy operator.

According to Bristow, the lions are expected to target livestock because the majority of their natural prey within the Community Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) area has been illegally poached away.

“The only things our company has put into the area has been to benefit the communities, such as water pumps, boreholes and support to schools. It is unfortunate that a minority in the communities is trying to muddy the water of a project that has good potential to benefit a large number of the community,” Bristow said.

Because the lions were following the livestock, villagers stated they were compelled to relocate their animals from their pastures to feed in the fields.

“We saw footprints of three lions last Sunday close to our homesteads. There have been incidents of lions here in Jutshume, Makwa, and other areas. We are living in fear because we have lost livestock due to these lions. We recently moved the cattle from their grazing area to the fields but I am sure these lions are crossing the area in search of the cattle meaning they have to pass through our homesteads,” Ncube said.

Ncube also expressed concern about the prospect of lions attacking schoolchildren who travelled long distances to school.

“Since the season is now changing, children wake up and walk to school by dawn so we are afraid that they might meet up with the lions which will attack them. I don’t know how we can be assisted because we have lost livestock and this incident has been going on for a while. These lions are now coming to our homesteads following up on our livestock,” said the villager.

Another villager from Mabhongane area concurred seeing the paw prints of the lions.

“My son saw the dogs barking while digging on the ground. When he went to check what the dogs were barking at, he came across the lion prints. I also heard some villagers saying the lions passed through their homesteads,” said the villager, who expressed fear that soon the lions may attack people as they need to feed.

Contacted for a comment, Ward 10 Bambadzi councilor, Zuleki Nyathi, confirmed the matter and said the local authority had called hunters to come search for the lions.

“Yes, there are three lions in the villages. The livestock have been moved from the grazing areas so the lions are following them. We called the hunters who are still looking for them,” said Cllr Nyathi.

Chairperson of the CAMPFIRE Project in Ward 10, Sikhumbuzo Dube also corroborated the villagers’ claims.

“We received a report and when we checked, we saw the lion prints. Some of the villagers have  also seen the paws heading to their farms,” Dube said, adding that he had recently received a report that some camp rangers had spotted the lions in Ward 9, KoMakhulela.

“It shows the lions are really moving within the villages.”

Dube said rangers in the area were constantly in touch with villagers as they were dealing with dangerous animals.

Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) spokesperson, Tinashe Farawo said the authority was still investigating the incident.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button