TWO victims of human-wildlife conflict are battling for their lives in hospital after being mauled by a vicious hyena in the Zuze area of Makoni District in incidents that happened last week on Thursday and Friday.
It took the heroics of a traditional leader, Headman Gwasira, to kill the nocturnal animal, despite being badly injured in the bruising battle.
Headman Gwasira is recuperating at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in Harare, while the first victim, Mr David Zuze (54) who lost a large chunk of his lips, an arm and a palm, is admitted at Victoria Chitepo Provincial Hospital in Mutare.
Three other villagers also suffered various degrees of injuries and were treated and discharged.
They are recovering at their respective homes. During the past few weeks, the hyena or hyenas reportedly terrorised Zuze villagers, even in broad daylight .
When The Manica Post visited Mr Zuze at Victoria Chitepo Provincial Hospital early this week, he could hardly talk as a hyena had ripped off his lips.
With a vice-like grip and teeth that can tear through bone and tough meat, the hyena made light work of Mr Zuze’s hand as well as part of his right palm.
During our hospital visit, while Mr Zuze had received medical treatment for his injured hands and legs, he was yet to get a reconstruction procedure for his mouth.
Mr Zuze met his near death experience just before sunset while on his way to a funeral last week on Thursday.
His brother, Mr Simbarashe Zuze, said the family is praying for a speedy recovery.
“My brother said he thought that it was a dog, and only realised that it was a hyena after it attacked him. When he fell down, the hyena pounced on him and as he bravely tried to wade it off. lt ripped off his left hand and two fingers from his right hand. It also ripped off his lips. He had lost all hope and power when another villager came to his rescue,” he said.
On Monday, The Manica Post managed to track down the brave villager, Mr Philemon Munjanja, who rescued Mr Zuze from the vicious animal.
Mr Munjanja recounted the horror experience.
He said he heard Mr Zuze’s distress call and armed himself with an axe before dashing to where his neighbour’s cries were coming from.
He said the hyena left Mr Zuze and charged towards him.
“I heard a strange sound while I was in my garden. It sounded like a hyena, but I could not imagine seeing a hyena in broad daylight. I heard someone screaming for help.
“The screaming stopped after a while and I got worried. I grabbed an axe and ran to the scene. I saw Mr Zuze on the ground and the hyena lurking nearby. The hyena tried to attack me, but I firmly held my axe ready to strike it. We went back and forth for an hour, until it backed off and moved away,” he said.
Mr Munjanja, the village hero, later carried Mr Zuze to his homestead.
The following morning, the Village Head, Mr Noah Zuze and Headman, Mr Omega Gwasira, teamed up with other villagers to retrieve David’s body parts from the scene.
However, another skirmish with a hyena awaited them.
It emerged that the hyena or hyenas had attacked three more villagers that morning and one was laying an ambush.
In a telephone interview from his hospital bed at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in Harare, Headman Gwasira said: “Some of David’s flesh which include part of his arm, palm and fingers which were ripped off were still at the scene.
“We retrieved them, but as we headed to Rusape General Hospital where David was initially taken to, we met two women being chased by a hyena. We parked our vehicle and went after it.
“The animal turned on us and mangled my foot. My colleague tried to strike it with an axe, but he missed it and the axe landed on my leg. I sustained a deep cut, and that is why I ended up in hospital,” he said.
Despite suffering the leg injury, Headman Gwasira grabbed the axe and delivered a fatal blow on the hyena.
He called on ZimParks to hunt down the marauding hyenas which are now a threat to both people and their livestock.
“These hyenas are all over the area and we are appealing to authorities to hunt them down. Our lives are in danger and we have lost our livestock to these nocturnal animals. It seems like their population is increasing by the day. We are afraid that the human-wildlife conflict will continue escalating,” said Headman Gwasira.
Ms Evidence Maguva who was in the company of her husband, Mr Temba Jakosi, was also attacked by the same hyena an hour before it was exterminated.
In an interview, she said they are lucky to be alive after Headman Gwasira and the others came to their rescue.
Ms Maguva said initially, she mistook the hyena for a lost calf.
She said her husband warned her that it was a hyena and that she had to run for dear life.
“The animal bit my right thigh, but I did not realise it until I got home. I was bleeding profusely. I was taken to a local clinic where I was referred to Rusape General Hospital. I received medical attention, but I am still in pain.
“ I cannot walk back to the clinic for daily dressing because of the pain. The hyena almost tore off my leg and I would have died. I was saved by my husband as well as the people from the vehicle that stopped,” she said.
The Manica Post also understands that on Sunday night, a clan of hyenas attacked and injured at least five cattle.
Mrs Juliet Dzidzi, the owner of the cattle, said they are now living in fear of the hyenas.
“We implore on Zimparks to come to our rescue. We are now being forced to accompany our children to school, fearing that the hyenas may pounce on them,” she said.
ZimParks spokesperson, Mr Tinashe Farawo said he was still waiting for a detailed report of the incident. – Manica Post