Matabeleland Communities Feel the Effects of Climate Change

Villagers in Bubi ward 19 are living in fear after a herd of elephants invaded their fields. The invasion which began a week ago has resulted in the destruction of crops and field perimeter fences.

Settlements set up on wildlife corridors are prone to invasions. However, the problem has in recent years escalated as a result of climate hazards. Elnino induced dry spells have resulted in the division of water sources and shrinking of food reserves in wildlife habitats thus forcing wildlife species that include elephants and hyenas to invade nearby human settlements.

Getrude Khabo, Habakkuk Trust Community Advocacy Action Team women’s desk coordinator said the little field produce that was salvaged from the dry spell has been gobbled by elephants, threatening household food security.

She said, “Elephants have eaten the little that we got from the fields and we are afraid that we won’t be able to provide food for our children.”

According to villagers their area has been invaded by herds of elephants which are now roaming all over raising fears of wildlife human contact which bears tragic consequences. The fear has been compounded by schools opening where children leave their homes at dawn to attend school.

Habakkuk Trust Community Advocacy Action Team committee member Headman Micah Mhlophe expressed fears that children will not be able to attend schools opening in the next few days as a result of the presence of elephants in the ward.

Last week a villager reportedly ran for his life after encountering the jumbos on his way to the main road to board a bus.

Bubi Rural District Council has since dispatched a ranger to ward off the elephants. However, as a result of the perennial nature of the problem, adaptive mechanisms should be employed to enhance peaceful coexistence between local people and elephants. The local leadership is currently carrying out an assessment of crop loses incurred so far as a result of the invasion.

The Matabeleland region has in the past few weeks experienced the adverse effects of climate change characterized by hailstorms, heavy rainfall, heatwaves and wildlife invasions. In Nkayi Ward 6, hailstorms led to the destruction of homes, crops and other small livestock which include poultry and goats.

Limited knowledge and awareness on climate change coupled with the absence of relevant disaster risk reduction strategies has left communities helpless in the face of tragic consequences of climate change.

Habakkuk Trust is currently implementing a local governance project that seeks to enhance citizen participation in natural resource governance.

Source: Habakkuk Trust

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