'Feeding on baboons common'

HARARE - Deep in the arid Masvingo Province lies the remote district of Mwenezi where villagers have resorted to feeding on baboons, shockingly claiming its not out of hunger.

The area, which falls under the country’s natural farming region five — characterised by high temperatures and low rainfall throughout the year— last experienced reasonable harvests a decade ago but the resilient villagers are still going strong.

Owing to the aridity of the region, villagers have adopted ways of feeding themselves though some of these, including eating of baboons among others are generally viewed as unorthodox by society at large.

The area made headlines in some sections of the media for resorting to baboons to mitigate hunger, but a visit to the area last week, courtesy of Zimbabwe Red Cross Society, revealed that baboons were not hunted as a result of hunger but owing to their meat being a delicacy.

“Of course, some of the people here eat baboons but this is not caused by drought and hunger but those people view baboon meat as a delicacy.

“Above all, not every hunter can successfully catch a baboon, it needs expert hunters. The animal is very clever and it can fight back, it needs strong and tactful hunters. Gudo haribatiki zvokumhanya (it’s not easy to catch a baboon),” Murambiwa Chamatowo, a villager, said.

“Baboons have been eaten since time immemorial here and it has nothing to do with drought and hunger. Eating baboons is no longer news here.”

As the area is continuously experiencing bad harvest on yearly basis, this has attracted leading humanitarian organisations such as Zimbabwe Red Cross Society, with the help of British Red Cross, to implement several projects such as community resilience programmes meant to alleviate hunger in the region.

“The project targets drought-prone areas like Mwenezi and Chipinge in Manicaland. Currently, the project is working with 2 000 beneficiaries in six wards in the two districts. The beneficiaries are expected to increase to 2 500 in each district by the end of the 4,5 years of project implementation,” Zimbabwe Red Cross Society secretary-general Maxwell Phiri said.

“ZRCS has shifted its focus from remedial kind of assistance to focus on building community resilience with the aim of empowering communities so that they are able to withstand future shocks caused by disasters. The concept of resilience has emerged as a longer-term and more cost-effective strategy for substantially improving regional or local capacity to withstand such shocks and stresses.

In carrying out the project, Zimbabwe Red Cross Society has capacitated the affected districts with training and skills in different sectors, including health, that is rehabilitation of water points and construction of water troughs among others.

“For sustainability water point committees are also being trained. The project also provides training to help with hygiene promotion in schools and homes among others. We have also set up centres of excellence in districts to help educate farmers on issues like water harvesting technologies, improved and climate smart agriculture with also a focus on better animal management,” Phiri said.

“Some of the areas being worked on are nutrition promotion and disaster risk reduction activities among others.”

Comments (1)

I was born and grew up in Mwenezi disrict. Its true eating of baboon meat has nothing to do with hunger though this time there is limited food. Areas arround Manyuchi dam in Bonda village baboons were good meat since long back. Nyama ye Chenda inonaka varume

Nhopi - 30 September 2016

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