DETE: Hungry villagers from a Dete village recently descended on an elephant that had been struck and killed by a haulage truck, cutting off chunks of meat from the giant beast.
The freebie would not have come at a better time for a community whose repeated complaints against the menace caused by the animals on their crops have gone unheeded by the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.
Some villagers have often been forced to harvest their crops before they mature for fear of losing them to herds of marauding elephants. For some, the elephant carcass was good return for their losses.
The jumbo died when it was hit by 58-year-old Evening Kunaka, who was transporting drought relief maize to Hwange GMB depot last week.
The incident ignited a stampede among villagers who swarmed the lifeless beast, yanking chunks of meat for sumptuous dishes at home.
Narrated Kunaka: “I was driving from Bulawayo to Hwange to deliver bags of maize at GMB depot when suddenly an elephant attempted to cross in front of the vehicle.
“I could not apply emergency breaks as that would have been fatal and that’s how I hit it.”
But as Kunaka waited at the accident scene pondering his next move, he suddenly found company among villagers who had little to do with his misfortune but all to do with its abundant benefits.
Some of them, according to Kunaka, simply cut pieces of the animal without caring to skin it fearing they would miss out on the feast if parks officials suddenly emerged and caught them in the illegal act.
“Some didn’t even check if I was injured or not,” said Kunaka, who however emerged unscathed from his road traffic experience.
Local Chief Nelukoba was more sympathetic to his people, saying parks authorities have allowed wild animals to roam the area and destroy crops in the hunger prone area.
“People are left with nothing in their fields. We have reported to Zimparks but nothing has been done.
“We were hoping for a bumper harvest despite the floods but all those hopes are shattered now,” said the traditional leader who paid little regard to the dangers of feeding on dead animals.
A fortnight ago, villagers in Binga also feasted on meat from hippos that died mysteriously in Mlibizi area.
There are fears they could be affected by anthrax after investigations showed that the 13 hippos died from the deadly disease.