Andile Tshuma, Chronicle Reporter
SOME farmers in Matabeleland South’s Matobo and Gwanda districts have started losing their livestock as the effects of the predicted erratic rains this season start to take effect.
Villagers are allegedly walking long distances in search of water and pastures for livestock as the country faces another El Nino effect.
In a telephone interview, Chief Nyangazonke of Kezi yesterday said he was worried that his people were losing their source of wealth due to the drought.
“This is very worrying and catastrophic. It is so sad because as rural folk, our wealth is our livestock so we are losing our source of livelihood when these cattle and goats die like this,” he said.
“One of the major problems that we face is that we cannot do much as we are incapacitated. We are not part of the decision making processes and we are not involved in policy making. It becomes difficult to find podiums where we can voice our thoughts so that our people’s plight may be addressed.”
He said he was aware of a number of households that had lost livestock across the district.
“We are just praying for better rains. I know of a number of households which have already reported having lost some livestock due to drought,” he said.
Chief Nyangazonke said cattle were now walking long distances to get to water reservoirs as nearby rivers and streams had dried up.
He said the area was now facing a livestock/ human conflict as people and animals were competing for the same water sources left.
“This time of the year, even if we receive some rains, animals still suffer from nutritional deficiency and therefore animals will require supplementary feeding,” he said.
The chief said veld fires have become a problem across the province and were destroying grazing areas.
Matobo District Administrator Mr Obey Chaputsira in a telephone interview yesterday afternoon confirmed some livestock had died, but could not immediately give statistics.
“We have received cases of livestock deaths as a result of drought in our area. Most of the affected areas are Wards 1,2, 4, 5 and 6. I cannot immediately give statistics. However I will get in touch with teams on the ground and give feedback,” he said.
In 2012, the province lost more than 9 000 cattle to drought.