The KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, has assured the community of Nongoma that work is being done to protect them from wildlife attacks.
The community has suffered attacks to their livestock after lions, leopards and hyenas escaped from the nearby Hluhluwe-Mfolozi Park through a damaged fence.
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 provincial Cabinet received a report from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife on the escape of lions from Hluhluwe-Mfolozi Park. The report stated that 13 lions had escaped through a damaged fence around the reserve.
This resulted in 19 cows and five donkeys being killed allegedly by lions. Two lions were killed by the community, while 10 others were put down by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.
One lion is said to be still on the loose and continuing unabatedly with the reign of terror. It is being sought by game rangers.
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 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 community
Dube-Ncube said her department will use the Expanded Public Works Programme to give employment opportunities to residents.
With regards to the levies generated by Hluhluwe-Mfolozi Park, Dube-Ncube said such dividends should be a benefit derived by the communities.
“These opportunities should be distributed equally among all residents and all traditional councils that border the game park. We will also attend to issues of water and sanitation, and Ezemvelo will ensure that your jojo tanks are filled with water, as there’s no water here,” she said.
Dube-Ncube said well stocked water tanks will decrease need for people going to the river, thereby being exposed to wildlife. – SAnews.gov.za