There has been an ongoing open conflict between human beings and animals in the locality of Gamba, a small petroleum village in the Ogooue-Maritime province of Gabon.
According to Odette Polo, the First Assistant Mayor of the locality, the situation has been exacerbating with time and has become very critical right now.
Visitors to the small community are welcomed by signboards announcing the presence of animals such as “Attention Elephants”.
Gamba village is constructed within a protected area where animals are supposed to live in peace without the intrusion of human beings.
However, the locality is so beautiful and endowed with all the goodies of nature that it is difficult to dissuade human beings from roaming the area just as the animals do.
While the local community has been doing everything to avoid the areas frequented by mostly elephants, the elephants on their part have not been that reciprocal in avoiding the area inhabited by human beings.
“The situation is very critical now. The elephants have been destroying plantations and the farms of the local population situated on the periphery of the protected areas,” Polo.
Addressing the President of the Economic and Social Council, Ndezemo ‘Obiang, who was on a visit in the locality recently, Polo revealed that “the inhabitants of Gamba are threatened by the elephants which destroy their farms that are their principal source of livelihood and the main activities of the people”.
The Assistant Mayor divulged that the devastation by the animals is so serious that each time they invade farmlands, the destruction caused is equivalent to a whole year’s harvest.
“And this can ruin the lives of a whole family,” he noted.
In order to protect themselves and their livelihoods, the people are forced to set traps or hunt the animals by other means, all of which paradoxically is against the environmental protection laws in force in the country.
“This, on the other hand, pitches the local populations against the state authorities, which have to navigate between protecting the livelihoods of human beings and at the same time protecting the endangered species from extinction due to human hostility towards them,” Obiang said.
“In Gamba, the problems with elephants are recurrent. We have to search for appropriate solutions.”
For now, the “appropriate solutions” are still blowing in the wind.