RUNDU – Residents of Sihepero in the Kahenge constituency in the Kavango West Region have abandoned their crop fields after they spotted a cheetah in the area two weeks ago and refuse to return until wildlife officials deal with the threat.
The cheetah was spotted with its cub in the area causing widespread panic and forcing villagers to desert their crop fields and homesteads. No one is prepared to return to Sihepero until the animals are removed. “We immediately rushed to safety when we found a cheetah cub in our yard,” said Nekongo Lahja, one of the villagers who spotted the cheetah cub first. “We also spotted the tracks of an adult cheetah and decided to move to our other house at Gcwagi in the Kahenge constituency, which is situated along the Rundu/Nkurenkuru road to avoid being attacked,” she said. “Now weeds are growing in our maize and mahangu fields,” she told New Era.
According to villagers they usually alert officials of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism when they encounter wild animals, particularly elephants, but this time they have been told the ministry does not have any vehicles. Villagers are now worried about their unharvested crops, which they fear may be plundered by elephants in the area. They are also unhappy over the fact that they have not yet been compensated for losses sustained due to damage to their crops caused by wild animals in the past. The councillor of the Kahenge constituency Joseph Sikongo could not be reached for comment and so were officials from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism by the time of going to press late last week.
By John Muyamba