Elephants from Namizimu Forest Reserve in Mangochi have destroyed 588 hectares of crops in the area of Traditional Authority (TA) Katuli in Mangochi, leaving over 3,000 households at risk of food shortage.
TA Katuli and Agriculture Office in the district confirmed this to Mana Thursday saying the destruction occurred over the weekend when a herd of elephants invaded the entire area between Iba and Kwisimba destroying all crops in sight.
He described the invasion as the worst ever in the past two years when the areas along the edge of Namizimu Forest Reserve started experiencing conflicts with the elephants.
“We have had elephant invasions in our fields before but this is the worst of its kind,” explained Katuli explained in a telephone interview.
He added that, “The most painful thing is that the elephants first invaded people’s dambo crop fields and destroyed everything there and this time the people’s hope was on these crops they grew upland only to lose them all again.”
Katuli said he had reported the matter to the District Commissioner’s office who in turn alerted the Wildlife and Parks department for action.
Director of Administration for Mangochi District Council, Dominic Mwandira, confirmed to Mana that he had alerted the Parks and wildlife and that they had deployed their staff to the area.
He added that reports from the Area Civil Protection Committee Chair, Austin Thauzeni, from Kwitunji confirmed that the Parks and Wildlife staff had indeed arrived at the area and that the situation had returned to normal.
On the severity of the destruction, Mangochi District Agricultural Development Officer (DADO), Owen Kumwenda, said 3,161 households have been left helpless and open to food shortage.
He said as at Sunday evening, the elephants had destroyed 206 hectares of maize crop affecting 1,123 households; 273 hectares of beans affecting 1,427 households; and 45 hectares of sweet potato affecting 229 households.
The damage includes 38 hectares of cassava affecting 201 households, 15 hectares of banana affecting 83 households; and 11 hectares of sugarcane affecting 98 households.