BY REX MPHISA
VILLAGERS in the Madzivhe ward of Beitbridge West are living in fear of a marauding leopard reported to have recently killed at least 19 goats and several dogs.
The leopard was last seen on Monday and according to villagers, it has the audacity to raid homesteads for a kill and then retreat to a nearby hill.
A Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority (Zimparks) official at Beitbridge, identified only as Ngapawe, said he had not yet received any report to that effect.
“Advise the villagers to communicate with us, otherwise we have not heard any report from that area,” he said.
A Beitbridge Rural District Council official in charge of Communal Area Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (Campfire), Peter Ncube, also said his office had not received reports of the problem animal.
“We will investigate immediately. We may send our contracted hunters or liaise with Zimparks on the solution,” Ncube said yesterday.
A villager from the area near Zezani Growth Point, 10km off the Bulawayo-Beitbridge Highway, said villagers were concerned about the problem cat.
“We have had problems for some time. It has been attacking goats and has become cheeky even to the extent of killing dogs set on it. It might also turn on humans,” said Zezani Siziba, a villager.
Asked why the villagers had not reported the problem animal to the Zimparks officials, Siziba said they did not know where to reach them.
Another villager from the area who works in Beitbridge, Wellie Chigodora, said he had received reports from neighbours back home who were concerned that the animal might attack humans.
“People are concerned. It might attack children, even adults. It’s a sign there is no food in the bush,” he said.
Beitbridge is a Campfire area, where villagers have been educated to co-exist with wildlife.
Large game, such as elephants, is often seen in rural Beitbridge moving along traditional routes from transfrontier parks in both the east and western parts of the vast district.
These did not interfere with humans and were harmless if left alone.
Residents of Beitbridge town, however, said of late baboons were causing problems in residential areas where they are breaking into and stealing from houses.
“They enter houses and take food. They take bread and anything that is in the open. They don’t fear humans, particularly women,” said a woman who lives along Acacia Avenue, close to the Limpopo River.
Some cross-border shoppers also reported stubborn baboons that snatch bags of groceries from pedestrians walking across the bridge from the South African side.