Saturday, May 18, 2024

Elephant guardians mend buffalo fence

The Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) in the North West region has asked Elephant Protection Society (EPS) to maintain a 30km buffalo fence from Boro Gate to Daunara. 

The Non-Governmental Organization will begin maintenance between next month and May after heavy rains delayed the project scheduled to begin in March. 

EPS Co-founder, Oaitse Nawa said a request to maintain the fence was proposed to DVS last November. 

On the 17th of February, DVS gave the go-ahead in a letter to EPS, to maintain the fence in two phases. 

Asked why an elephant protection group is maintaining a buffalo fence Nawa said: “We were conducting patrols to see how elephants enter human settlements and farms and we found that some parts of the fence were not in good condition. To the extent that even cows went through the fence.” Because of this, EPS took the initiative of assisting the government, knowing that these are tough times.”

Before the approval, EPS had never engaged in similar projects. 

“This is the first time in history EPS undertakes such a project. Even though that’s the case, we have the guidance of DVS who have a deep understanding of the fence,” Nawa explained. 

In requesting to maintain the fence, EPS observed certain areas of the fence had been destroyed by elephants. Water streams, where water passes, have made it easier for cows to cross by going underneath the fence. “So, we thought of closing such holes because that is where domestic and wild animals go in and out,” he added.

The Boro gate to Daunara buffalo fence is in disrepair. It longer deters wildlife and domestic animals. 

Nawa said there are areas along the fence which have collapsed after being trampled by animals that cross without hindrance.

Nawa said there are also some areas of the fence where poles have been burnt by previous bushfires. Such areas are those EPS intends to restore and erect new poles. Before getting the authority to maintain the buffalo fence, there was nothing stopping wildlife and domestic animal inflows across the fence. 

Be that as it may, Nawa said that maintaining the fence will also control the spread of Foot and Mouth, by barring cows from straying beyond the fence.  

“The greatest aim of the project is to bring on board the community and get them involved and at the same time show them the importance of a buffalo fence,” Nawa explained. As of now, EPS is still sending out requests for donor funding. Nawa said that they have not received any donors as of late who have shown interest in funding the project.

EPS will begin the maintenance project until end of April. “Our intention was to start maintaining the fence mid-March, but because of the heavy rains, it is impossible to reach the fence line with vehicles,” Nawa admitted. This means that there might be a two-month delay.

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