HYENAS are reportedly causing havoc in Mberengwa district, the Midlands, a situation which has divided the community as witchcraft allegations are being thrown around.
A villager from Neta said the hyenas had attacked goats, but now had gone to the extent of attacking dogs.
“We are really living in fear because it is rare for hyenas to come near people’s houses and attack dogs,” the villager said.
“The situation has become so terrible that the villagers are accusing each other of witchcraft, saying the animal is associated with things to do with witchcraft. People are even thinking of engaging traditional healers and Chief Bvute so that they look for a tsikamutanda to reveal the owner of the hyenas.”
According to the Department of Veterinary Services, there are 99% chances that the hyenas could be rabid, as one of the most prominent symptoms of rabies is loss of fear for humans or other animals. However, when contacted for comment, Mberengwa North MP Tafanana Zhou professed ignorance over the issue.
“I have not received any report about hyenas in the district,” he said.
Meanwhile, the animals are said to be wreaking havoc in Bubi district, Matabeleland North, as they prey on livestock, with villagers sending an SOS message to authorities to intervene.
Zacharia Nkomo, a villager from Kenilworth resettlement, told Southern Eye they feared for their livestock as they were the prime target of scavenging beasts.
“The hyenas have finished all our goats, cattle, donkeys and no action is being taken by the authorities,” he said.
“If we kill the hyenas, we will be arrested by Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority, but the problem remains unresolved.”
Nkomo said the attacks by hyenas had compromised their livelihood, as livestock are their source of living.
According to the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee report, many people in Matabeleland North province depend on livestock sales as their major source of income.
Nkomo said they feared for their lives as the hyenas could turn on them after they were done with the villagers’ livestock.
“We are now afraid that the situation would be ugly like what happened in Buhera, where people were attacked by hyenas,” he said.
In 2013, villagers from Buhera South were taken by surprise when a hyena went to the extent of attacking people sitting in their huts.
Bubi legislator Clifford Sibanda confirmed receiving reports that hyenas were wreaking havoc in the district.
“I have received a number of reports from communities and the hyenas are really a problem in a number of areas,” he said.
“The problem is people who are supposed to deal with these animals are ill-equipped.”
Sibanda said they had engaged the environmental manager from the Bubi district council and Nengasha Safaris.
“We have engaged those responsible and they said they were doing their best, but nothing has materialised,” he said.
“There is need to engage villagers as they are the ones who are familiar with the whereabouts (of the hyenas). It is very difficult to trace the hyenas. They could be only one hyena moving from one village to another.”