Despite the toiling of farmers trying to make ends meet and sustain a living through farming, farmers are still battling with the problem of elephants destroying their crops and vandalizing their property in the Tonota and Mmadinare areas.
One of the farmers, Kopano Maruping of Tati Siding, revealed to Sunday Standard that his farm in Tonota was left bare after a herd of elephants raided his fence, ravaged almost all the crops and vandalized his equipment. He stated that he was hoping for a better harvest this year due to good rains but now it was a dream turned into a nightmare.
He went on to say there was an incident in which the elephants raided his farm, crushed his generator and cut off the electric equipment that he used to light up his farm to scare them off.
“The elephants are said to be from Mashatu Game Reserves and they normally travel in huge groups,” he said.
He went on to explain that he reported the matter to the wildlife officials in Mmadinare and they only came to assess the damage and told him that they would compensate him and they would control the elephants from further destroying his crops but that did not bear any fruit. He revealed that although the officials promised compensation on the damages caused by the beasts, they could not elaborate how they were going to pay his damages. One of the farm workers revealed the incident in which he had to vacate his house and escape into the hills as the elephants were in the yard last week.
“One farmer’s calf was killed by an elephant recently,” continued the farm worker.
The elephants are said to be moving in large herds and are terrorizing the farmers mostly at night. There are also some allegations that one of the farmers was nearly killed by an elephant while travelling from his fields recently when it even ripped off his bicycle apart.
Information reaching Sunday Standard is that the Bobirwa area is also facing the same problems as the elephants continue to cause damage in farms.
Another farmer from Tonota, Godirwang Simon, pointed out that she has given up because the elephants always find entrance as they please into her farm. She pointed out that although this has never been an issue in the past years, the situation of the beasts destroying her crops has worsened this year. She went on to state that farming has been part of her life and she was not going to give up.
“I grew up here as my father built his farm here in 1971 and we survive on the proceeds we make from farming,” she said.
She added that in January early this year a herd of elephants found entrance into her farm and destroyed most of her crops mostly beans.
Reached for comment, the Senior Game Scout in the Wildlife Department in Mmadinare, Patrick Machana, told Sunday Standard through a telephone interview that they, as wildlife officials, are doing their best to control the elephants from vandalizing and destroying crops in the farms in their area. He indicated that although they are situations where the elephants can pass through the cordon fence towards the Tonota areas, they normally control the situation. He explained that payment of the damages is done procedurally looking at the damage and what was damaged. Machana further indicated that they also normally urge farmers to kill wild animals that pose threat to their lives and then report to the nearest wildlife offices as per the Wildlife Conservation Act.
“We always make sure that we control the situation and whoever has a problem with the animals can contact our office, especially in the areas we operate in,” he said.
Efforts to reach the wildlife officials in Francistown for comment failed as the phone went unanswered.