A terrified community in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), South Africa, has been reassured that the government is fixing damaged fences to protect them from wildlife attacks, while it has sadly been revealed that 12 of 13 escaped lions have died. One is still on the loose, terrorising the community while game rangers try to track it down.
Broken fences resulted in leopards, hyenas and 13 lions from the Hluhluwe-Mflolozi Park escaping the popular safari holiday destination. The wild animals subsequently preyed on the Nongoma community’s livestock, with the lions allegedly killing 19 cows and five donkeys.
The KZN provincial Cabinet said it received a report from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife on the escape through the damaged fence around the reserve.
Two lions were killed by the community, while 10 others were put down by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.
The KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, assured the community of Nongoma at a recent meeting with them that work is being done to protect them from wildlife attacks.
At a recent meeting with the community, Dube-Ncube said: “We shall put a stop to this. We have already fixed many parts of the fence and we don’t want this to happen again.”
She apologised for the anguish the community has suffered.
The issue has caused huge rifts between the community and the management of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, requiring urgent government intervention.
Dube-Ncube said the policy by Ezemvelo, which only compensated victims whose livestock is killed by lions and excludes paying damages to those whose livestock is killed by leopards, will be reviewed. The policy has caused an uproar among the residents.
“This policy will be reviewed urgently. It would be an injustice if we compensate others and exclude other victims whose livestock is also killed by wildlife that has escaped from the game park.
“This game reserve is your asset. It exists because of you. Surely we can co-exist,” the MEC said.
Expanding economic benefits for the KZN community
Dube-Ncube said her department will use the Expanded Public Works Programme to give employment opportunities to residents; and that dividends from levies generated by the Hluhluwe-Mfolozi Park should benefit the community too.
She also said that the department will ensure that the community’s jojo tanks are well stocked with water to decrease the need for people to walk to the river, thereby being exposed to wildlife.