A PRIDE of lions on the loose from South Africa’s Kruger National Park is spreading terror in a Beitbridge village after killing 12 cattle and 10 donkeys.Villagers in the Tshikwalakwala area, near the border with South Africa, fear the lions could soon target humans.
Enock Ndou, the local ward councillor, said: “We have a serious problem of stray lions from Kruger National Park which are roaming Tshikwalakwala and surrounding areas.
“They are killing livestock and villagers are now living in fear of being attacked by the lions. Just last week, the lions killed three donkeys while 12 cattle were also killed in the last few months while they were grazing.”
The intensification of the animal attacks began last year in October, he added. Molly Chauke, a local villager, said: “We continue to endure the pain of losing our livestock to lions. This problem has been going on for years and there seems to be no end in sight to it.
“This issue has since become a perennial problem and we are appealing to the relevant authorities to address this problem as a matter of urgency before villagers lose their lives.”
Ndou said although there were no reports of human deaths, the animals were now a threat to children, particularly those who walk long distances to school.
“As schools open, children are likely not to go to school for fear of being attacked and we’re appealing to Parks and Wildlife Management Authority to look into this issue,” he said.
Ndou claimed that a local safari operator, Three Ways Safaris, contracted by the Beitbridge Rural District Council to use tranquiliser darts and capture the lions, was not up to the job.
“We’ve been trying to engage the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority to assist us since the safari operator is failing to address the challenge and so far we have not been getting any positive results,” explained Ndou.
Parks and Wildlife Management Authority spokesperson, Caroline Washaya Moyo said she was not aware of the problem but promised to look into the issue.
Beitbridge is a drought-prone district and local farmers rely on cattle ranching as their major economic activity.