As human-wildlife conflict escalates in Manicaland, a good Samaritan who was trying to help a woman who was being attacked by a hyena was killed after the animal turned on him last week on Thursday.
Two others, Mr Noah Jambaya and Mr Petros Machona, sustained life threatening injuries and are admitted in hospital, while Mr Charles Gamunorwa lost his life.
The marauding hyena was killed by Mr Gamunorwa’s brother, Valerio, as he tried to save his brother.
This incident comes hard on the heels of another case of human-wildlife conflict that saw five people being attacked by a hyena in Makoni District.
When The Manica Post visited Gamunorwa Village in Chiadzwa, Mutare last week on Friday, mourners were on their way to the cemetery to bury Mr Gamunorwa a few hours after he had succumbed to the hyena attack.
They made a brief stop-over at the area where Mr Gamunorwa was killed and conducted some rituals.
Valerio witnessed the fatal hyena attack and expressed anger and frustration over the tragic incident.
He said together with his late brother and 10 other villagers, they had rushed to assist Mr Jambaya and Mr Machona who had been attacked by the wild animal.
However, the animal turned on his brother.
“When we heard Mr Jambaya and Mr Machona crying for help, we teamed up with 10 other villagers and rushed to the scene. We were at my late brother’s homestead when we heard the commotion.
“The noise sounded like a cow was being attacked by a hyena. We rushed to the scene thinking that we were going to rescue the cow, not knowing that the hyena was attacking people. We realised that two people had been injured.
“When we got here, the hyena went straight for my brother, Charles, and knocked him down. When the other people we were with saw what was happening, they ran for their lives in different directions.
“Mr Jambaya, whom we had rescued, also took this opportunity to escape. Only an injured Mr Machona, Mr Tatenda Kusena and myself remained behind to fight the hyena,” said Valerio.
He added: “When we tried to rescue my brother, the hyena charged towards us. We remained resolute in our quest to save my brother’s life. When we hit the hyena with heavy stones, it would fall down, but would regain its strength and charge towards my badly injured brother and continue mauling him.
“He died a painful death, something that we never anticipated as we were relaxing as a family at his homestead 30 minutes before his death,” said Valerio.
Mr Kusena (18) said he did not run away with the others when he noticed that Mr Gamunorwa was under attack since the deceased was his friend’s father.
“Had other villagers not bolted away and helped us fight the hyena, we could have saved Mr Gamunorwa’s life. We would have killed the animal before it had badly deformed Mr Gamunorwa’s face, resulting in his death. The other villagers only came back after hearing that we had killed the hyena,” said Mr Kusena.
The deceased’s father, Mr Elvat Gamunorwa said they are waiting for the return of ZimParks rangers to hunt down the marauding hyenas.
“ZimParks rangers attended my son’s funeral and promised to come back to hunt down the hyenas. We are patiently waiting for their return because our lives are in danger.
“I am still in shock. This has never happened in this area. I hear the hyena continued mauling my son’s face despite spirited attacks from those who were trying to wade it off. Traditionally, we know that hyenas run away from people,” he said.
Local businessman, Mr Caston Chishingwi said with the hyenas roaming freely around Mutsvisi Mountain, their lives are in danger.
“They attack our livestock and now they are turning to humans. We hope the authorities will swiftly respond to our distress calls,” he said.
The late Mr Gamunorwa left behind children aged eight, 10, 13, 15, and 18, whose mothers are also late.
The deceased’s son, Ashton Gamunorwa (18) said his father’s sudden death left him with a heavy burden of taking care of his four minor siblings.
“My father was a calm and soft person and did not deserve this painful death. He had only gone there to assist others, but he ended up being the victim. I hope locals will assist me to raise my siblings since my father died while trying to save other people’s lives,” he said.
Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) spokesperson, Mr Tinashe Farawo urged communities to report to the Authority and their nearest police station if they spot wild animals around their areas.
“We are doing a lot of awareness campaigns throughout the country, encouraging our communities to minimise night movements as most of the wild animals are nocturnal and move at night.
“We are also encouraging communities to make sure that their livestock is looked after as they have a tendency of leaving them to roam freely, thereby exposing them to wild animal attacks.
“We have also created a lot of WhatsApp platforms across the country for communities to send in their messages.
“We regret the loss of life, it is not good for people to die under such circumstances. We are also concerned about the injuries that were reported in Manicaland over the past two weeks.
“We are always on high alert and react in the shortest possible time so that we can help the communities. Manicaland is mountainous and there are a lot of caves where wild animals can stay. Communities should be careful when moving around so that they remain safe,” said Mr Farawo.