MIKE MUGALA, Lusaka
WHAT started as hearsay for Lusaka’s Garden township residents has now become a life-threatening situation barely a month after a crocodile was spotted in one of the sewer ponds in the area.
Though the number of the crocodiles in the sewer ponds has not yet been established, a number of residents talked to disclosed that they have either seen a picture on a phone or heard about the existence of crocodiles in the ponds.
When Stanley Mwansa first spotted a crocodile in one of the sewer ponds, he took pictures of the reptile and later started showing his friends and other neighbours around.
When he told his friends about the existence of the crocodile, they did not believe him until he showed them the pictures as evidence.
“I was passing by the sewer ponds with my friends and saw a crocodile basking in the sun at the edge of a pond. As I drew closer whilst taking pictures, it disappeared into the sewer water,” he said.
Stanley thinks the reptile is a danger to human life in the area because of the proximity of the sewer ponds to residences.
“I still feel that a permanent solution has to be found because this animal poses a great danger to our community,” he said.
“I have been a resident of this area for some time and such a thing has never happened before, I don’t know where the crocodiles might have come from. My friends and I spend most of our time at the sewer ponds, especially during weekends. The situation is no longer the same because the ponds have now become a no go area,” he said.
Another resident Mary Mbao was a doubting Thomas when she was first told about the incident, thinking it was just a rumour.
One month later, Mary is scared for the lives of the children in the area and says that an urgent solution be found to arrest the situation.
“I first saw the crocodiles on the phone pictures and later in one of the sewer ponds which was emptied by the Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company. Since then, my heart has never been at peace because I have a four-year-old son and I am scared for his life. The sewer ponds are not protected and anything can happen to anyone at any time,” she said.
Mary said it has been difficult for the department of national parks and wildlife to cage the animals because people usually disturb their operations by stoning the reptile whenever it comes out to bask in the sun.
Samson Mwale who has been a resident of Garden township for over 20 years now believes that someone introduced the crocodiles to the sewer pond.
He said it was the first time such an incident was occurring in the area though he could not say why someone might have taken it there.
“A crocodile is a deadly animal, I feel some urgent measure must be done by Government especially for the safety of our little children. I have not seen the reptile but people have been talking about it for some time now and I feel the issue is becoming a concern to residents.
And the department of national parks and wildlife is not unaware of the existence of crocodiles in the sewer ponds.
Director, Paul Zyambo said the department has heard about the reports from members of the community, the he is not aware of the total number of the reptiles.
“We have been doing everything we can to ensure that we cage the crocodiles so that the lives of our people are safe. We thinking of how we can transfer the reptiles to Kalimba farm or any other crocodile farm. We are also monitoring to ensure that they do not multiply. But if they multiply, we will have no option to kill some,” he said.
Mr Zyambo said there is need for members of the public to avoid getting closer to the sewer ponds to prevent any accidents.
He said some members of the public have been tampering with the operations of the wildlife officers, they are making it difficult for them to cage the reptiles.
In addition, a check at the sewer ponds indicated that the wildlife officers only camped at the sewer ponds for a week and later left the site.
Residents talked to by the Sunday Mail, revealed that officers camped in the first week of January and later left the area.