THE Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) reportedly released the first batch of wild animals into Manzou Estate on Tuesday in an apparent bid to force over 200 families settled at the farm to vacate.
The villagers, who have remained at the property on the strength of a fresh High Court order, confirmed the development yesterday, saying over 100 zebras were released on Tuesday evening at Arnold and Spenenken farms.
“We saw heavy trucks at around 9pm yesterday (Tuesday). We did not go out of our plastic shacks to see what was happening. It was only today (yesterday) that we noticed that our crops had been destroyed by wild animals and when we tracked the spoors, we came upon about 100 zebras which looked quite unfamiliar with the area,” Aspinas Makufa, one of the villagers, said yesterday.
Zimparks spokesperson Caroline Washaya-Moyo last night said: “As far as Zimparks is concerned, we are not aware of any zebras translocated to Manzou.”
But Makufa said: “They (zebras) are by Mazowe Dam right now. Yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon, police from Mazowe came and pitched a tent for Zimparks workers who are guarding the zebras. They (Zimparks rangers) are here and armed.”
Makufa said the villagers were contemplating guarding their fields the whole night against the zebras as their crops were exposed.
“If they (government) think that we will leave the farm because of threats posed by these animals, they are fooling themselves. We don’t have anywhere to go and we have already applied fertilisers in the fields. Even if they bring dangerous animals, we are not leaving our crops. We would rather die here than die of hunger after abandoning our crops,” he said.
Two weeks ago, armed police stormed Arnold and Spenenken farms, which form part of Manzou Estate, and destroyed villagers’ homes in a bid to force them out to pave way for First Lady Grace Mugabe’s private wildlife sanctuary.