PALAPYE: Palapye has a new wildlife attraction feature, the elephants have arrived, and the numbers seem to be increasing by the day all thanks to the recent good rains that appear to have liberated the elephants to stretch their legs to new territories without bothering a second about the availability of water which is now everywhere in this area.
They have not been welcomed with cheers though; panicky villagers want them out for fear of violent confrontation.
In 2007 three elephants were spotted in the Tswapong and Mahalapye areas before they retraced their steps on their own.
Exactly where this new herd of elephants hail from, nobody knows but wildlife officials suspect they could be from the Boteti area, or the Shashe/Motloutse area.
They are now roaming the Palapye region and spreading southwards towards Makoro and beyond, the wildlife Department has confirmed.
Palapye farmers have already pressed panic buttons though; fearing for their lives and their crops. In fact they can’t even step out to go to their ploughing fields also known as the lands, claiming they fear the elephants.
Recently when area MP Master Goya came to the town for kgotla meetings, the subject of elephants was a hot agenda item as the residents narrated how they fear for their lives.
The Chairman of Palapye Village Development Community (VDC), Benjamin Ndaba also confirmed to have seen three elephants with two baby elephants strolling in the area.
Meanwhile, the Regional Wildlife Officer (Central Region) Onalenna Kgathi confirmed that the matter was reported to them on Wednesday and that the elephants were not the first ones to be reported in their area. She said the reported animals are so many and had been seen at areas like Makoro and Mmashoro, where they destroyed fences and small stock kraals.
Kgathi said that rainfall contributed to the elephants scattering around Central District, saying they camp wherever they find a reservoir or any source of water.
“The animals are so many in our district this month, I suspect rainfall has also contributed to their scattering around the villages.
After the matter was reported to us we sent out our team and even though they haven’t seen the animals they had seen their footsteps.
The area is said to be very thick so our officers could not follow the animals up to where they were exactly,” said Kgathi.
Kgathi admitted that of course people are scared of the animals because they are not used to them since Central Region is an elephant free zone.
But she encouraged people to stay calm as their team was still combing the area.
She said their intension is to find them and drive them away from the Palapye region .
Furthermore she assured the residents that the animals were not harmful and urged the residents to avoid sending their dogs to bark at the elephants as that could provoke them. Last year about 12 elephants were sighted around Molepolole, and Lentsweletau, not far from Gaborone, after they marched for days from the Chobe, through the CKGR and Khutse Game Reserves.
A team of wildlife officials and the army had to battle the wild animals which looked destined for Gaborone, and drove them back into the CKGR.