CHIKOMBEDZI, (CAJ News) – COMMUNITY ranching – whereby villagers’ cattle will be kept and grazed together – is anticipated to address numerous problems in southeast Zimbabwe where locals are losing beasts to rustlers, villagers are destroying parts of a national park and people are in contact with dangerous animals.
The initiative is to be introduced in August this year in the drought-prone rural Chikombedzi area of Chiredzi district south in the Masvingo Province along Limpopo.
It is anticipated community ranching will also create order as currently, livestock graze haphazardly.
The community has since identified bomas (livestock enclosures) that will accommodate 3 000 cattle. Locals have also proposed alternative pastures for livestock currently under drought spell at Naivasha area, which is under the Gonarezhou National Park.
Having the park at the vicinity has heightened human-wildlife conflict as wild animals stray into communities.
Villagers have also cut some parts of the park’s perimeter fence to allow cattle to graze, thereby exposing livestock to diseases like foot-and-mouth.
Community ranching is also set to curb cattle rustling that has seen the community losing over 1 000 cattle per year, sometimes to rustlers from neighbouring Mozambique.
Security for livestock will be guaranteed at the grazing pastures as villagers will be organised to look after their cattle at the bomas.
According to a model plan by Chinhoyi University of Technology, the grazing pastures would be irrigated from boreholes to be sunk in the area.
The community has since sourced project partners that will drill the boreholes to water cattle as well as pasture grass during the pastures’ restoration process.
The pasture restoration programme entails planting of pasture grass and shrubs suitable for livestock feed.
Hebert Phikela, the director for Gaza Trust, a non-governmental organisation specialising in community development in Chiredzi South, told this publication that the move to access alternative pastures in
Naivasha needed approval from responsible authorities, Gonarezhou Conservation Trust and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.
“We have realised that farmers are losing a lot of cattle dying of hunger. pastures will be monitored to provide food to livestock throughout the year, thus we want to ensure that we won’t have any cattle dying,” Phikela said.
He was however wary the request to use Naivasha area as alternative grazing areas would set a precedence to other communities that might end up requesting pastures in national parks.
Prof. Herbert Chimhundu of the Chinhoyi University of Technology, who is leading a team of livestock experts that is partnering Gaza Trust, said community ranching would be beneficial to cattle rearers.
“This is a programme that I am too confident will bring joy and alleviate lives of Chikombedzi cattle farmers. It is effective and economic,” he said.
Chimhundu said in addition, community ranching would enable breeding of cattle in the region.
“We are proposing to bring quality cattle breeds in that area since we are going to do artificial insemination,” he said.
Willie Makoti, who is Chief Sengwe, welcomed the initiative to collectively ranch cattle.
“Our area is too dry because of low rainfall. Our grazing pastures dwindled. Many people were resorting to grazing their cattle in Mozambique. We no longer have adequate grazing lands and we are losing cattle every month, especially this year and last year,” the chief stated.
- CAJ News