Over the last two weeks, a herd of elephants have been steadily encroaching into the heart of Maitengwe, leaving residents cowering in fear.
In their search for water, at least 15 jumbos have made the border village their nighttime drinking spot, causing much destruction as they clumsily attempt to quench their thirst.
Although villagers are used to living in close proximity to the tusked beasts, who have roamed the surrounding landscape in large numbers for the last five years, it is unusual for elephants to venture so close to the people’s homesteads.
In the past, although they have caused chaos at the lands, devouring crops and crushing harvests, the jumbos have been content to keep their distance from the village.
However, speaking to The Voice this Wednesday, Maitengwe Chief, Shadreck Mphala–Mengwe explained that all changed at the start of the month.
With the elephants growing bolder by the day, Mphala-Mengwe is convinced it is only a matter of time before they kill someone.
“We chase them away but they keep coming back. They started by destroying at the cemetery, demolishing the tombstones. They also destroyed the border fence by pulling it down. Only this morning a resident came to report that her jojo tank has been damaged by the elephants!”
The village leader revealed they have sought help from the wildlife department, who have so far been unsuccessful in their attempts to deter the elephants from entering the village.
“The wildlife guys have equipment which emits a sound that scares the elephants. It keeps them away for a while but eventually they return,” continued Mphala-Mengwe, unable to suppress a frustrated sigh.
The kgosi urged his people to stay home if possible.
“During the day the elephants are sleeping in the bushes so one can bump into them when going to the fields or to collect firewood!” he said, stressing that under no circumstance should the villagers leave their homes at night.
“We also asked the residents not to take them on as it is very dangerous!” warned the chief, who advised the villagers to light big fires in their yards and also beat drums to chase the elephants away.
Mphala-Mengwe added that some of the individuals whose crops were destroyed by elephants have been compensated by government whilst others are still waiting for their payments.