LUNGALA – Many farmers have already lost their cattle to drought, as the country continues to battle with the most devastating drought in years. But, in the Zambezi region, cattle are still in good condition thanks to the region’s evergreen pastures, particularly in flood-prone areas.
However, the severe drought has already taken a visible toll on cattle grazing in the upper land, as most streams have already dried up.
On Tuesday, while driving around the Zambezi region to inspect how the drought has affected some parts of the region, this reporter found himself at Lungala, about 10 km southeast of Mutikitila in Katima Mulilo Rural Constituency, at the border between Namibia and Botswana where about 60 hippos are stranded in a shallow pool of muddy water.
According to community members staying at the cattle post at Lungala, the hippos are trapped in no man’s land, and in a matter of weeks they could start dying as the water where they are trapped is fast drying out.
“These hippos are in trouble and if nothing is done in the next two to three weeks, they may start dying. If it is possible, the relevant authorities should do something as soon as possible,” said Tronah Masiye, a community member in Lungala area.
Her sentiments were echoed by another community member, Felix Mukendwa, who stated that: “We are already digging wells where our cattle drink from so what about these animals which live in water. The grass is also depleted and at night these hippos come out to graze around our cattle post; we are afraid for our lives,” he said.
Contacted for comment, the chief control warden in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Morgan Saisai, stated that they are aware of the situation and are in discussion with their Botswana counterparts to find an amicable solution.
“We will continue to monitor the situation. We will see through the drought strategy utilisation option that is there… and we will engage our counterparts because they (hippos) are in no man’s land,” he said.