The fears were heightened following the killing of a 34-year-old farmer by rampaging elephants last year. TV3’s Upper East Regional Correspondent, Eva Atiboka, also reports that the gigantic creatures also destroyed several farmlands in the district.
Residents say their lives are endangered because the elephants from time to time storm their communities. The Garu-Tempane District, which is the largest in the Upper East Region in terms of land space, comprises about three hundred farming communities.
But having to battle elephants to secure their lives and crops is their greatest fear. The district is surrounded by the Togo and Burkina Faso Wildlife reserves and the Gambaga Scarp which is known to be harboring elephants and other wild animals.
The District Chief Executive for the area Robert Alazua told TV3 inasmuch as the concerns are genuine, the incidence is not widespread.
“It’s because of the forest that’s why we are doing well in agriculture. The forest is a natural resource that has benefited past generations and we are presently benefiting from it. The issue of elephants and wild animals are not so new because we have lived with them. Even we human beings as civilized as we are, we do quarrel and so that was just a one-time incident”.
Last year, about eight elephants stormed the district and killed a farmer, an incident the District Chief Executive describes as a very sad incident.
“It’s a big loss to the district because that person could have become a very big farmer. But if you listened to the story about how it happened, it was as a result of the way the person approached the animals. These are wild animals and the person went so close to them whiles he rode on a motorbike. And these animals are not used to the sound of machines”.
A resident told TV3’s Eva Atiboka that the deceased may have been attacked by the elephant because he wore a red shirt. He claims the color attracts elephants, an assertion TV3 cannot verify.
The residents say their lives are being threatened. The Regent of Kugri, one of the communities closer to the forest says the elephants still live close to their homes.
But the District Chief Executive says the district is safe.
“Our district is very safe because we did a lot of sensitization; our Regional Director of Wildlife came over by himself and they did some education on the radio stations. They went to the communities closer to the forest and also did some education”.
Without recourse to animal rights, some police officers on one occasion took refuge on rooftops near the forest from where they shot and killed an elephant to the admiration and relief of residents who looked on.
The meat of the elephant was later shared among many residents of the district, most of who were to use them for medicinal purposes in the near future.
But residents of the Kugri community did not partake in the sharing of the meat because it killed a native of their community. But TV3’s Eva Atiboka found the skull of the elephant in the palace of the Kugri community.
The trunk of the elephant could not be traced an incident that generated controversy between residents and the police officers.
A seventy-eight year old man also told TV3 that climate change may be contributing to the changes in the movements of the elephants.