'Cyclone' horror plant torments villagers

RUSITU - When Cyclone Eline hit eastern Zimbabwe more than a decade ago, it did not just leave a trail of destruction, but seeds of a previously unknown and now invasive plant in the Muchadziya community in Rusitu.

The plant is now referred to as ‘Cyclone,’ by villagers in the area.

“We only began to see this plant after the cyclone so we all named it Cyclone,” said Stella Mwareya, a villager.

Together with Richard Masiyazi, another villager, they describe the plant as a nuisance.

The highly adaptive plant, reproducing itself through seeds, is not only colonising vast tracts of land, invading fields, growing from crevices and thriving on almost any surface, but it is even competing for space with pine trees, the Daily News on Sunday witnessed.

“The only way to tackle the plant’s menace is not to allow it to produce seed. The seeds can be easily transported by air or by runoff rain,” Masiyazi said.

Mwareya said although locals are aware of  the problem the plant is posing, there have not been any concerted efforts to deal with it both at community level and by any government institution.

Environmental Management Agency (Ema) provincial office staff professed ignorance over the existence of the plant before referring all questions to the provincial manager Kingston Chitotombe, who will only be available after the holidays.

Sadly, its villagers here are doomed to years of a redundant battle with the plant.

The plant has infested Allied Timbers Tarka Forest.

A transactional walk of the forest by the Daily News on Sunday crew revealed a runaway dominant plant that is choking all other vegetation and even threatening to make hectares of this estate even impassable for wildlife.

With the way the plant is entrenching itself, Muchadziya and Vimba communities in Rusitu appear doomed.

Comments (5)

Ko Chitotombe wach ngaadzingwe basa ka?

Muporofita Jeremiah - 6 January 2014

EMA is just a useless organisation of money mongers doing little to address the environmental challenges facing the country. They are just good at giving useless tickets while doing nothing to offer practical solutions to address environmental challenges facing the country.

Truth - 6 January 2014

Maybe the plant can be investigated for green fuel. This could be a blessing in disguise

Sibanda - 6 January 2014

@Sibanda, I think that is a brilliant suggestion. The plant could be our future source of fuel, much safer than ethanol from sugarcane. Bravo!

james - 6 January 2014

We might be able to use it as food instead of maize. Who wants to experiment with me?

samsonj - 21 February 2017

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