MATOPI (Botswana) — Elephants from neighbouring Zimbabwe are reportedly terrorising residents of Matopi, Matsiloje villages and surrounding settlements such as Lephane.
Report by Mmegi
The jumbos cross over to drink water at a reservoir owned by Botswana’s Department of Veterinary Services at Matopi, 20km east of Matsiloje.
The elephants have often been blamed for spreading foot and mouth disease (FMD) in the Matsiloje and Matopi areas and destruction of the border fence.
The destruction of the fence means cattle can cross the border easily and spread FMD.
Veterinary officers say last Monday one elephant went berserk at Lephane, a settlement near Matopi, after it was provoked by dogs.
It destroyed trees and a goat kraal, but no one was injured.
Officials said they were finding it difficult to repair the border fence because of the frequency at which the elephants destroyed it.
The elephants graze at a hill in Matopi and then go down to drink water at the reservoir before they cross back into Zimbabwe at dawn.
Villagers say they live in fear of the animals.
“Walking around the village has become unsafe. Even our kraals are constantly destroyed by these deadly animals,” a visibly worried Killer Patrick of Matsiloje told Mmegi.
Molatedi Oseilwe of Matopi village shared Patrick’s sentiments.
“The elephants have been crossing into the country from Zimbabwe.
“They destroy the fence paving way for cattle to cross to and from Zimbabwe easily.
“This could spread FMD into the country,” he said.
The councillor for the area, Flora Mpetsane, said the elephants were a threat to people because wild animals were unpredictable.
“The wildlife officers do come and disperse them, but after a while they come back,” she said.
Botswana’s Wildlife and National Parks directors Oldman Koboto said they always disperse the elephants which migrate to other areas but they often return in search of water.
“We do often teach communities how to deal with the elephants and other animals without our intervention,” he said.
Zimbabwe’s elephant herd is believed to be around 100 000, which is way above the carrying capacity of the country’s game reserves.