BY Matabeleland North Correspondent
CHRISTMAS came early for some Victoria Falls residents recently, after rangers from Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority gunned down a problem jumbo.
Rangers tracked and shot dead a male elephant which had terrorised residents destroying gardens and tuckshops while making the resort town’s high density suburb of Mkhosana’s streets impassable at night.
The lone elephant had been roaming the streets of Mkhosana posing a danger to residents and had prompted Zimparks to issue a warning to residents to be on the lookout.
“To all residents of Victoria Falls, be advised that there is a sub adult elephant roaming around Mkhosana and Mfelandawonye area looking for goodies in bins. We kindly ask you to report it to Zimparks officials anytime you see it.
“We urge everyone to treat this elephant as wild and never tamper around with it until it is brought to order by Zimparks,” read a warning statement from Zimparks Zambezi Camp.
The rangers finally put down the jumbo on Monday afternoon, triggering a mini-scramble for meat by residents who quickly thronged the site to skin the giant animal.
While some could have celebrated the fall of the jumbo which signified safety especially for night travellers, scores more could not hide their joy after getting a chunk of game meat at a time beef and other meats are no longer affordable in shops.
A kilogramme of meat now costs more than RTGS$30 in shops while a 2kg packet of chicken cuts is almost RTGS$40, putting it beyond reach of many.
Most butcheries now refuse to accept payment in Ecocash or RTGS electronic money as they prefer to sell meat in foreign currency which is a disadvantage to residents who have no access to it.
Rangers had to barricade the carcass and guarded it on Monday night after having allowed residents to feast on part of it.
The scramble continued Tuesday morning as more lined up as news of the fallen elephant spread.
“We slept there guarding the carcass because we had to stop people from skinning the whole elephant. Only one side was skinned and cut on the first day and interestingly, there are some residents who volunteered to spend the night at the scene guarding the elephant because they wanted to be the first to get the meat in the morning,” said a ranger.
Residents who spoke to NewZimbabwe.com said they could not resist the meat because it is no longer affordable in shops.
“This is manna from heaven. We couldn’t resist such Christmas because these days meat is a luxury as we can’t afford to go into shops to buy.
“This has become the norm that whenever an elephant is shot we all scramble for meat but this time it’s different because everyone wants meat,” said Ethel Moyo, a resident from Mfelandawonye.
However, some residents remained skeptical that rangers shot down the right bull as the problematic one was still on the loose.
Zimparks wildlife officer Mathew Muleya urged residents to remain vigilant and report any problem animal.