Nkasi pushes for harvests to stop croc attacks wave

01Mar 2021
The Guardian
Nkasi pushes for harvests to stop croc attacks wave

OFFICIALS in Nkasi district, Rukwa region have written to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism asking for permit to harvest crocodiles in Lake Tanganyika following a spike in incidents of the reptiles attacking humans.

District Commissioner Said Mtanda said here yesterday that the rise in crocodile attacks, including some fatal cases, was evidence that their numbers are too high to maintain themselves within the lake ecosystem.

“A reduction is the best way forward. There are also large numbers of hippos but crocodiles pose a bigger threat to lives of fishermen and villagers along the lake shore,” he said.

The DC had visited a health centre in Namanyere township to see Thomas Kasagama (23), a resident of Kabwe and a recent croc attack victim.

“Every now and then there is news of someone being severely injured or killed. We can’t sit down and wait for more of such bad news. We have written to the ministry and once we get the go ahead, the harvesting work will start immediately,” he said.

Meanwhile, the DC appealed to residents of villages along the lake to be cautious while undertaking regular activities such as fishing, swimming and washing clothes at the shores of the lake.

But Lake Tanganyika is not the only water body where the reptiles have rapidly multiplied to the point of being a regular threat to human life as similar stories of attacks are heard from Lake Victoria, Ruvuma River and other areas close to large water bodies

Human-wildlife conflict relate to wild animals leaving their natural habitat and entering villages or attacking people on lake and river shores, which has increased in recent years after a sustained anti-poaching effort.

The effect on human life has been high, with the ministry hesitating to take any action. In 2019, the minister, Dr Hamisi Kigwangalla announced a plan to issue permits for harvesting 10 per cent of crocodiles owing to rising attacks on humans.

Yet no such permit is being held by Nkasi district authorities and no crocodiles were harvested in the past year, officials noted.

Villagers have usually taken measures when attacks occur, like killing the animals, which at one time the minister deplored as cowardly, of harming or destroying a state asset.

The former minister said to resolve the croc pest problem, excess animals would be sold in public auction in a plan that would involve hippos, but no study has been carried out to see how this would affect meat trade, or the danger of contracting diseases.

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