Tongogara refugees unsettled by marauding big five game

HARARE - The big five game - lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and buffalo - are being blamed for the rising conflict between humans and animals for land in Chipinge as wildlife habitats come under mounting pressure.

In an interview with the Daily News at a recent trip to Tongogara Refugee Camp (TRC), Chipinge Ward 5 councillor Alderman Phibeon Machuwaire said the animals had begun entering the refugee camp.

Refugees in the camp — mostly from war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo — have been embarking on livelihoods projects sponsored by organisations such as the World Food Programme, Terres des Hommes, Jesuit Refugee Services and Goal Zimbabwe among others.

“The perimeter fence that borders the host community and the camp was destroyed by the local people who were entering TRC, but that is not the problem.

“Because of our close proximity with the Save Conservancy, there is the big five which enter and destroy the crops that both communities will have planted,” Machuwaire said.

The Savé Valley Conservancy is one of the largest private game reserves in Africa. Located in the South Eastern low veld of Zimbabwe, bordering on the Save River on its eastern side, the Conservancy comprises 750 000 acres of diverse wildlife habitat.

It houses most of all of southern African game species, including the Big Five and is home to one of Africa’s largest populations of black and white rhino, and to a healthy population of rare African Painted Dogs.

Machuwaire said because the animals are not to be restricted, their presence is unsettling to refugees, though no attacks on humans had been reported yet.

Congolese refugee Anaclet Mbungu-Katombe said the animals can get into the camp at any time because there is no boundary.

Katombe said because of the roaming wild animals, many people refrain from moving around during the night.

“We fear for our children because while now the animals have not harmed us, in future a human attack could happen while we have been complaining about the safety of people,” he said.

TRC administrator Johanne Mhlanga said a perimeter fence would be erected at the camp as soon as funds are available.

“We know the concerns of the residents of the camp and the host community. We have alerted the relevant authorities on the issue and they said they would be dealing with it,” he said.

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Comments (1)

A new campsite is needed with dignified accommodation , amenities like shops , training college , sports centre , etc. Zimbabwe is not a cheap country , this UN is a joke. Sezvo vachigara padhuze nemhuka mari hayishaikwe. Refugees must be allowed to school elsewhere in the country..... Scholarships are available to get into fine schools , both sport and academic.

Earl of Chimanimani. - 1 December 2018

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