Rangers had at first cornered the animals in the hope that they would return to the park.
“When I heard about the elephants, I walked 10km and crossed rivers to get to the elephant carcasses but when I got there, there were too many people with axes and knives and pangas. I could not even get to the meat,” said an emotional Linah Khoza, who cried after having to return home empty-handed.
She also suffered several cuts and bruises while trying to fight her way to the carcasses.
“It broke my heart to return home and see my children disappointed in me. I could not get any meat. There was nothing left. My husband died 10 years ago and I struggle to put food on the table for my family,” said Khoza.
The family survives on a social grant.
Mad scramble for meat
More than 200 people from Matsulu outside Mbombela rushed to the carcasses in a mad scramble to put meat on the table for their families.
Zodwa Mondlane was among those who managed to get elephant meat. The 63-year-old unemployed and single parent of five children said when she left her house there was nothing in her fridge except water. She said she made an effort to get as much meat as possible.
“When I heard that elephants were killed I prayed to God to give me the strength to get meat for my family. I had to fight with everyone. I also had a knife and a bag to put [the] meat into. I am really happy that we will have meat for the rest of the month and I know God will provide for us in the coming months,” said Mondlane.
She said it was the first time she’d had elephant meat.On January 19, rangers from the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) were seen talking to the crowd, who were carrying pangas, grinders and knives.The elephants had not yet been shot at this stage.
The decision was then taken to cull the elephants.
“The park’s aircraft had to leave and the decision was then taken to cull the elephants. The heads of the elephants were removed from the scene to extract the ivory, which by law accrues to the MTPA.”
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