By Justine Kumadzulo and Elias Banda
Horrors of elephant attacks have reached alarming proportions in the areas of Group Village Nthundu and Mangamba in Machinga District. Hungry elephants are on the loose from Liwonde National Park, terrorizing people from the nearby villages and destroying crops.
Last year, the vicious elephants invaded maize fields and destroyed crops, affecting 670 families. Group Village Headman Nthundu said maize and bananas in the river banks were razed down, forcing people to survive on mangoes.
There is a sustained fear among villagers that continued elephant attacks would threaten the food security situation in the area if a lasting solution is not found.
|A Wildlife official addressing chiefs|
The elephants have broken the National Park confinement wire and found their way out into the villages. Chiefs say elephants can cover a distance of 20 kilometers before returning to the National Park. The broken wire has not fully replaced despite complaints of frequent elephant attacks.
|GVH Nthundu presenting his concerns|
Attempts have been made previously by the Village Natural Resource Committee (VNRC) and the Park officials to resolve the matter but none had since materialized.
Recently, ADRA Malawi through the Action for Social Change Program (ASC) facilitated an interface meeting between Parks and Wildlife (PW) Officials and affected chiefs to find a lasting solution on the matter. The chiefs used the forum to present their concerns to the Wildlife officials.Â Chiefs complained that affected families have not been compensated by government. PW officials bemoaned continued poaching activity in the National Park by the villagers and called on local authorities to sensitize their subjects on the malpractice.
According to PW Regional Manager Mr. Nyanyale, compensation would be done on extreme cases. He assured the chiefs that the confinement wire would be replaced and urged them to guard it from poachers.
One chief who declined to be named said the meeting was fruitful and for the first time, chiefs could meet face to face with wildlife officials. â I can now see light at the end of the tunnel, I am confident the matter will be solvedâ he said.
|Part of the audience during the meeting|
The Machinga District Agricultural Development Officer who also attended the meeting advised that poaching could be reduced if people kept more domestic animals such goats, chicken and pigs.
The Action for Social Change Program is covering 60 village communities in the area and many of them have been affected by elephant attacks. The Program with funds from Denmark is facilitating advocacy activities with community based groups in Traditional Authority Liwonde and kawinga in Machinga.
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