Thursday, 30 July 2015

Namibia: elephants plague farmers in Ohungu conservancy

Elephants are causing havoc for farmers in Ohungu conservancy, Ozondje, Arbeids Adel and Lekker Pos in the Kunene Region.

Farmers said that they are again living in constant fear of elephants destroying their houses and harming the community, especially the elderly and children.

Elephants are known to pay occassional visits to populated areas in Kunene and Erongo regions as they roam through the Ugab riverbed that runs through the Erongo to the Kunene in search of water and grazing. But in their search they destroy fences and waterholes used by communities.

“This area looks like it was hit by a tornado after they leave. Trees are broken, kitchens and gardens are turned upside down. We don’t plant close to our homes or keep food in our houses as they can smell that kilometres away,” said farmer Natalia Hoebes.

According to Hoebes the increase in elephants are due to the fact that Ozondje Constituency in Erongo is experiencing drought and elephants are in search of water. “We received a bit of rain so the elephants came all along the river in search of water.  Government must really do something as we really fear for our lives. It is just a matter of time before they hurt or even kill someone,” said Hoebes.

“A group of 15 elephants came here on Wednesday and it was terrible.  I heard the earth trembling like we were hit by an earthquake and then the dogs were barking and running away while the goats and cattle were all over the place. I went out to look and saw a group of elephants chasing the farm animals around. I just went inside and waited for them to come destroy my house with me inside. What else can I do, I am old, besides how do you defend yourself against such a humongous animal,” a visibly traumatised 89-year old farmer Gertruida Garoes said.

Garoes is living with her grandchild and his girlfriend but was alone the day the elephants invaded the area as the couple work at a construction site on another farm.

Hoebes said: “Every evening the elephants are here. We don’t even have drinking water for our cattle anymore. They come every evening, drink up all the water and leave.  This time around they are too much. Government must do something about them. Previously only two or three would come but these days they come up to 15,” she said.

She says that they have to rebuild fences “every time and repair drinking holes as the elephants will even pull out the pipes if they don’t get enough water”.

“In the past they would also destroy wind pumps but thanks to volunteers who built defensive fences around the wind pumps they cannot enter that area anymore,” she said.

She appealed to the government to do something about the elephants. “They say it’s our animals and we love them too – they are nice to look at but they are very scary.  But we cannot also be oppressed by our animals. We love them but they are just too much and we fear for our lives.”