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River groups still suffer from human wildlife conflict

2023-05-12  John Muyamba

River groups still suffer from human wildlife conflict

John Muyamba

RUNDU – Persistent and increasing human wildlife conflicts continue to threaten people along the Kavango River. This is after a 26-year-old man lost his life on Tuesday when he was attacked while paddling a canoe by a hippopotamus. The deceased intended to cross to a river island to collect firewood.

The latest wildlife conflict incident took place at Shitemo village in Kavango East. The deceased succumbed to his severe injuries on Wednesday in the Rundu Intermediate State hospital where he was transported after the attack.

Sadly, these attacks have become too common for the communities that depend on the river. If it’s not a hippo then it’s a crocodile attacking those who use the river water or fishing.

“The sad incident occurred at about 09h00, where the deceased Likuwa Kudumo, a Namibian male was attacked by a hippo and succumbed to injuries the next day,’’ said the Kavango East acting regional commander, Eino Nambahu.

The deceased was with his sister who was carrying her baby on her back when they were crossing on the canoe. The sister was rescued by a bystander in a canoe who ferried them to safe ground. Hippos are known for their highly aggressive behaviour and are well equipped to deal considerable damage to anything that wanders into their territory.

“It’s further alleged that the hippo jumped over the canoe and hit the canoe, threw it in the air and bit the deceased in the chest and threw him near the bank of the river where he managed to crawl out of the water,’’ Nambahu explained.

In a recent interview, National Council member and Rundu Rural constituency councillor, Paulus Mbangu, lashed out at the environment ministry for cautioning people not to endanger their lives whilst making use of the river. Mbangu said the ministry has failed people because the former is supposed to ensure safety by implementing necessary measures.

In the wake of recent fatal human wildlife attacks in Kavango East, environment ministry spokesperson Romeo Muyunda cautioned communities living along the rivers in the northern and northeastern regions, and the general public, not to risk their lives.

“We understand that communities draw resources from rivers for their livelihood. However, we encourage people must do so safely by taking necessary precautions at all times. Children should not be allowed to collect water by themselves but rather be under the supervision of an elder person. We strongly discourage conducting activities such as washing in or in proximity to the river,” he said.

Muyunda further indicated the ministry is currently working on practical and innovative preventative measures such as the setting up of crocodile enclosures; water provision, as well as to maximise the benefits of conservation to ensure the benefits outweigh the cost,” he said.

2023-05-12  John Muyamba

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