TANZANIA – Food crisis looming as animals destroy crops
Queen Isack, The Daily News
Rombo district residents in Kilimanjaro Region are in danger of facing food shortage if concerted efforts to control wildlife in consuming crops are not employed.
Already, animals like elephants and monkeys have eaten bananas that are used as staple food and commercial crop for residents while more than 15 people have been injured and their crops destroyed by elephants, hyena and leopards that stray into their fields and residences.
The Rombo District Commissioner, Ms Agness Hokororo, made the revelations before the Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Constantine Kanyasu and requested the government to take action.
She said the residents often complained that wildlife had been destroying their crops, noting that in areas surrounding Mount Kilimanjaro, monkeys posed a great challenge.
“Monkeys have become a big problem in many places, especially in Mashati village, where monkeys have been liberally entering into houses and fighting with children over bananas.
“In principle we are not allowed to touch the wild animals, but we are continuing to educate the people and have talked to Kilimanjaro National Park (KINAPA) authorities to solve the problem. She added that wild animals like leopards, elephants and hyenas were also straying into human settlements, consequently endangering the lives of the people and destroying properties.
The DC said the animals had caused much damage from May last year, but wananchi had not been compensated. The animals had also seriously damaged the North Kilimanjaro forest plantation known as Rongai, and western Kilimanjaro forest plantation managers have expressed concern over the invasion and devastation caused by some Maasai community members.
The Rongai Manager, Mr Ernest Madata, said the challenge was huge, particularly in the area surrounding park, where elephants had been entering the fields and causing much damage.
“Although we have been working with KINAPA to prevent wild animals, still herds from the Maasai community have been entering the farms and destroying small trees, as well as causing losses due to their tradition of moving from one place to another,” he said.
Deputy Minister Kanyasu said the government would explore better ways of dealing with the wild animals and advised the Rombo District authorities to hire wildlife officers who would help them control the animals, in co-operation with KINAPA.