Saturday, 28 May 2022

l SAID MY LAST PRAYERS AS ELEPHANT CHARGED


MR Hanganani Dube (76) of Simukululwe Village under Chief Dingani-Nelukoba said his last prayers as an elephant attacked him in a bush last year in Mabale, Hwange District.

He thought he was going to die. Luckily, he survived but suffered permanent injuries.

The old man becomes emotional as he narrates how it took him eight hours to reach the main road after the elephant kicked and trampled him on May 5 last year.

He got help at 10pm following the attack at 2pm.

He is living testimony of the war between wild animals and humans and is one of many survivors of the human-wildlife conflict.

Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) recently reported that 35 people were killed by different animals nationally while others were injured between January and May this year.

Two Victoria Falls residents were killed in a space of a week recently, and one of them, Obert Sigola, is Mr Dube’s neighbour in Mabale.

Mr Dube attended the African Elephant Conference which ended in Hwange on Thursday with ministers from countries that have jumbo populations resolving to sell their ivory stockpiles and continue lobbying for liberalisation of trade in elephants and their products.

The villager was invited to give testimony on human-wildlife conflict together with Chief Dingane Nelukoba who appealed to CITES to allow culling of elephants to reduce their population.

Mr Dube said he is now a hopeless man who can’t work for his family.

“I am now useless and my children are suffering as I can’t work or do anything productive,” said Mr Dube, addressing delegates at the conference.

A father of eight, Mr Dube is originally from Gwambe in Plumtree and relocated to Mabale after getting a job at Hwange Colliery Company in 1969.

He lives with wife Ms Fumani Shoko (40) and two minor children as the others have moved to join some relatives in Bulawayo.

Ms Shoko herds cattle while children are at school as villagers herd their livestock all year round because of prevalence of predators.

A news crew visited Mr Dube at his homestead to appreciate how the injury had affected his family’s livelihood.

His wife now does virtually everything from household duties to working in the fields and herding cattle, putting her in danger of being attacked by wild animals, said Mr Dube.

“I was herding cattle and was standing behind an anthill which has dense bushes when suddenly I saw an elephant standing hardly two metres away from me.

It didn’t move and I tiptoed round the anthill but encountered another one which raised both front legs as it charged at me,” said Mr Dube.

He said he tried to flee but because of his age and proximity to the jumbo, he could not outpace it.

He fell down and hit on the ground with his forehead.

“I was helpless. I closed my eyes so that I wouldn’t see it killing me and started praying asking God to forgive my sins before I die. It kicked and trampled me.

It blew its trumpet and stopped attacking me,” narrated Mr Dube.

He said after a while and seeing that the elephants were now a distance away, he rolled on the ground for about 50 metres and only realised he had fractured a leg when he tried to rise to flee.

He said he reached for a phone in the pocket to check time and it was just after 2pm.

“I started feeling pain and I was scared. I had to move away and I started dragging myself on buttocks while pushing the injured leg upfront. I reached the main road at 10pm,” he said.

It is about 2km from the scene of attack to the road.

Mr Dube said he used his torch phone to signal vehicles to stop for him but they passed by without stopping.

Mr Dube said after some time a driver from Hwange Safari Lodge stopped a distance away and after inquiring, discovered that he needed help.

The driver took Mr Dube to the hotel where management rushed him to an in-house clinic where he was treated while waiting for an ambulance which took him to St Mary’s Hospital in Hwange.

He said he is grateful to Hwange Safari Lodge for picking him up and Hwange Rural District Council which paid for the ambulance to Mpilo Central Hospital where he was transferred to for a special operation. Chronicle

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