NKURENKURU – Inhabitants of Maha village in Tondoro Constituency in Kavango West Region have for days not been able to sleep due to a large presence of elephants that are wreaking havoc in the area.Villagers have had to bear the cold weather conditions to scare off the marauding jumbos from entering their homesteads.
One of the affected residents is Reino Karupu Katewa, whose hut that he used as a makeshift food storage room was destroyed by the marauding elephants a week ago, when the wild beasts made their presence felt, straying into his yard in search of food.
He said the elephants first gathered in the fields where they grazed on wild trees. But around midnight they made their way close to his homestead.
“Initially only one elephant came to the homestead. Standing outside, it poked its trunk into the hut where there was maize, beans, pumpkins and mahangu and fed on them,” Katewa narrated, adding that the elephant only left his homestead when he started beating on drums and he ignited a huge fire that drove it away.
Thinking the fire and the beating of drums had worked, to his shock the elephant came back in the company of two others that were not involved in the first raid.
“This time around that elephant came straight into the homestead while joined by two others and broke the hut and again fed on the items stored in the hut,” he said.
At around 03h00, Katewa said, they were joined by Tondoro Constituency Councillor Joseph Sivaku Sikongo, who had been informed of what was happening via a text message.
Sikongo helped to scare away the elephant herd and he stayed with the family for hours.
The same herd then proceeded to a different homestead that was without people and destroyed three traditional huts.
Sikongo, who doubles as the chairperson of the Kavango West Regional Council, said that in October last year elephants wreaked havoc at Katewa’s homestead, causing damage to water storage containers, food and huts, but officials from the environment and tourism ministry did not come to their rescue.
Katewa and other residents whose food was destroyed by the elephants want the government to compensate them for their losses and to put in place measures to mitigate human-wildlife conflict.
“I want to tell the government that one of the contributing factors to poverty in the region is these elephants that are destroying people’s food,” he added.
The villagers were left in fear and with questions as to what it meant when they learned in the morning that the elephants drew strange circles on one section of the gravel road.
When this reporter arrived at that village in the morning, the circles were still visible.
• Nambara Stefanus is an information officer employed by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) based at Nkurenkuru in Kavango West