Monkeys terrorize farmers, destroy crops in Tanzanian villages

Deprived of habitat and food in sanctuaries due to deforestation, gangs of monkeys threaten livelihood of farming community

Kizito Makoye   | 19.11.2021
Monkeys terrorize farmers, destroy crops in Tanzanian villages (İsmail DURU - Anadolu Agency)

ROMBO, Tanzania

Farmers in Tanzania’s northern Kilimanjaro region have been forced to halt their farming activities and stay indoors to avoid being attacked by the monkeys.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Priscilla Shayo, a local ward leader in Kirongo Samanga village in the northern Rombo district, said monkeys who have escaped from nearby Kilimanjaro National Park have been posing a huge threat to the farming community and their economy as they have been damaging crops.

“These monkeys are a big threat. They have lost their sense of fear, and their behavior is becoming very aggressive toward humans,” she said.

Anna Temu, a farmer was injured when an ape targeted her with a stone.

“I consider myself very lucky, the stone would have hit me in the eyes, “she said.

According to her, the monkeys who are usually moving in groups of 20-30 invade farms and leave hapless farmers watching as they destroy crops.

“They even grabbed a cup of Mbege (local brew) and started drinking from it,” said Temu.

Besides invading farms, they are invading villages, snatching cooked food, attacking women and children, said the officials.

Mariana Mtei, 52, a farmer had moved to Rima, a lush green village on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro two years ago in the hope to grow crops on a large plot of land.

She has now ended up competing with monkeys to save crops and has left her family starving.​​​​​​​

Deprived of their habitat and food, due to deforestation coupled with farming and mining activities, the monkeys have moved away from the sanctuary and have spread in human habitations.

The residents who grow bananas in the sprawling Mlembea wetland in Rombo are trying their best to shield the crop from the monkeys.

- Legislators demand action

The villagers from the Chagga tribe who take cooked food wrapped in banana leaves with them to eat after long hours of work in the farms say the monkeys steal their food and leave them hungry.

“They snatched my cooked bananas and meat. I tried to chase them but it was too late,” said Calista Lyimo a resident of Rima village.

Adolf Mkenda, a legislator representing the Rombo constituency has urged the government to intervene and save the region from crop-destroying monkeys who endanger food security and pose a threat to local people.

“We cannot tolerate these creatures who escape from the forest to terrorize people on the streets,” he said.

Environmentalists worry

Environmentalists say the issue also highlights a growing human-monkey conflict as the changing weather patterns and increasing human activities are driving hungry apes from their habitats to look for food elsewhere.

“Some people try to poison monkeys who destroy their crop, this is unacceptable because it is humans who have encroached monkey’s habitats,” said Deusdedit Raphael, an environmentalist.

He said there was a threat to endangered monkey species from human-wildlife conflict.

Tanzania Minister of Tourism and Natural Resources Damas Ndumbaro said the government is working to resolve the problem of Rombo residents that they are facing due to the growing population of monkeys.

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