FARMERS in BH27 Village under Chief Mvuthu in Hwange District are counting their losses after a bolt of lightning killed 19 cattle during a storm that hit the area on Friday.
The 19 cattle belonged to different farmers and were part of 72 cattle penned in a Boma, a community project where cattle from the whole or part of the village are housed in one big kraal. A Boma is a stockade where farmers keep livestock safe at night and away from predators like lions and hyenas. On average, one cow is sold for about US$500 in the area, which means farmers lost cattle worth about US$9 500. Area councillor Godfrey Moyo (Ward 3) said the affected farmers were distraught and will need Government support to restock.
“Yes, the 19 cattle were struck and killed by lightning last night (Friday) while housed in a Boma. We are all shocked as a community and devastated, as you know cattle are a source of income and a symbol of wealth. This is a disaster which needs State attention,” said Clr Moyo.
Clr Moyo said five communal farmers were affected by the incident with one farmer having lost five beasts.
“This will affect many livelihoods in the era. Some lost their entire herd.”
Village head Mr Tymon Sibanda said villagers woke up to the shocking reality of the incident and were still at a loss of words.
“We are still in shock over this development. Villagers are devastated after 18 adult cattle and a calf were struck by lightning last night. Not much is known as it took place at night but the situation is terrible,” he said.
Mr Sibanda said according to their tradition and cultural beliefs it is taboo to consume meat from a beast struck by lightning.
“The carcasses are usually burnt or buried and a traditional cleansing ceremony is done. However, others conduct prayers according to their denominations. In this case both prayers and traditional cleansing were done and carcasses sold to Lion Encounter, an organisation keeping lions for tourism purposes on the outskirts of Victoria Falls City. As a helping hand Lion Encounter paid the affected farmers US$40 per beast,” he said.
The Boma project was started in 2016 in the area with the objective of trying to improve soil fertility and animal production.
Under the project farmers rotate to pen community cattle and are also assisted by Non-Governmental Organisations in looking after the animals. The NGOs provide services such as de-worming and dipping. The Boma is moved from farmer to farmer at intervals of seven days to ensure that the farmers also share manure.
The incident comes after a Chipinge farmer in February lost 25 Brahman cattle after they were also struck by lightning.