Elephants cause havoc for Omusati farmers

By Eliaser Ndeyanale at Iilambo

LOIDE Kadhila (26) from the previously drought-ravaged village of Iilambo in Okahao constituency of Omusati region was left counting her losses after marauding elephants recently destroyed her crops.

The elephants, numbering about 33 have dashed the hopes of the single mother of three as they destroyed her mahangu field last Thursday night and ate the harvested mahangu that was kept in the field, as well as a vast number of melons.

Visiting the part of the field that has been destroyed, Confidente could see the massive footprints of the elephants and how 80 percent of the crops had been destroyed. The impoverished and dejected Kadhila told Confidente at her home situated about 180km from Oshakati, that she does not have anything to feed her kids aged 10, seven and three, as the elephants destroyed her field.

“This is not the first time the elephants have done this, they were here in 2018 and they destroyed my crops… we reported the matter to Councilor Leonard Shikulo but we did not get any assistance, not even compensation of food.

“We do not know what to do.  We don’t get drought relief food but they give to some [people],” said Kadhila who has been farming on the land for 10 years. She added that the elephants have become more aggressive and eat everything in their way. Some people in the area light fires, especially at night to scare them away but this has not been working.

“They end up running for their lives, leaving elephants to destroy crops, particularly melons, mahangu and sorghum. They have been raiding farms and we fear for our lives. We reported this to the councillor but he did not act. We have also reported to the former councillor Isai Kapenambili, because he has a mahangu field here, but he did not answer us.

“Even the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) officials have failed to drive the animals away. We also fear the elephants might destroy our houses. The government should save us from this ordeal,” she added.

A MET official told Confidente over the weekend that they were trying to chase the straying animals from the area but when they chase some, another herd is reported in the area.

“We are chasing them with a helicopter but they are still coming (sic). We get calls every day from members of the public. We do not sleep at night. The elephants are a lot in the area. We have killed two elephants, one at Amarika and another in Oshandumbala villages… because we believed that if we killed an elephant, they would leave the place, but the elephants are still there,” said an official who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to the media.

They added that the elephants are also to be found in other constituencies like Tsandi and Otamanzi. “We suspect that they are coming from Zambia because they are coming in from Angola. However, they are a lot and they have calves,” the official said.

Omusati chief regional officer Gervasius Kashindi said he did not have information as to how many farmers lost their crops, saying the right people to give information are constituency councillors.

Contacted for comment, Councillor Shikulo confirmed the presence of elephants in the constituency, saying a lot of people have reported the issue to his office. “I cannot say how many people because they are a lot. I get reports every day but we have reported it to the region, as well as to the ministry responsible for nature conservation but they are not only in this constituency, they are also not in other constituencies such as Ruacana, Tsandi and Otamanzi,” he said.

Otamanzi constituency Councillor Johnny Iiyambo said about 10 farmers have lost their crops while Tsandi constituency Councillor Junias Amunkete told Confidente that in his constituency only two fields have been destroyed this season.