Kavango West Regional Council chairperson Joseph Sikongo Sivaku, who is the councillor for Tondoro Constituency, says marauding elephants are making subsistence farmers in Kavango poorer as the animals devour and destroy farmers’ fields on a daily basis.
Sivaku was speaking at an Inter-ministerial Committee meeting at Nkurenkuru on Monday and was called to address the issue of elephants that have been causing crop damage in the region.
The meeting was attended by the political leadership of Kavango West, officials from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, as well as the Ministry of Trade.
He said as councillors they motivate their communities to cultivate and they cultivate in order to produce food. “But the food they produce is, however, destroyed and fed on by the elephants. How can our people not be poor?” he asked.
“There are hundreds of elephants plundering crop fields. If environment and tourism officials say 60, it’s a lie. These elephants are a lot. I’ve counted some herds exceeding that number in one day at different villages and close to 300 people’s crop fields in the Tondoro Constituency alone are currently under attack by herds of elephants,” he said.
Sivaku says although the people put in claims they are not compensated in time and not fairly. “Everyday people are calling me to drive out to go and witness what the elephants are doing, even at night,” he said.
According to Sivaku the meeting was supposed to take place onMarch 29, but to their disappointment environment and tourism officials decided not to attend. The chairperson described the move as disrespectful, adding that the meeting was going to look at the progress made in addressing crop-raiding elephants in the region, as agreed upon.
“We want you to meet us when we agree for you to meet us. More especially, the colleagues from MET head office are the ones disappointing us. Perhaps they’re not feeling the pinch we’re feeling in the region. That’s why that meeting could not materialise,” he stated.
He said on Monday elephants were still reported to be grazing in the fields at three different villages in Tondoro, including Kanito, Nankupa and Kamupupu.
Whenever villagers alert him to where the elephants are – even at night – he drives out to those areas to get first-hand information and to see it for himself, he said.
” As leaders let us not take people for granted when they are aggrieved. When they cry [for help], leadership is about being there. What kind of leaders are we then [if we do not respond]?” he asked rhetorically.
Mpungu and Musese constituencies are also said to be affected by marauding elephants.