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Huge loss as lightning kills 18 cattle

Three families under Chief Chireya in Gokwe North lost a total of 18 cattle to lightning on Sunday evening.

One family lost eight beasts while the other two families lost seven and three.

Mr Nyasha Chivaviro, who lost eight beasts, said he was still shocked.

“You know we are mere villagers and cattle symbolise wealth, but all the cattle are dead in a single bolt of lightning. I am pained by the loss,” he said.

Another farmer, Mr Richard Kapfumo, who lost seven beasts, said he was devastated.

“It was a violent storm, and when everyone is celebrating the coming of rains, we are now counting our losses. It is devastating that I am now left without even a single beast. I will now use the kraal logs for making firewood,” he said.

Mr Kapfumo said he used the beasts as draught power and suddenly, the rains that have come are meaningless to him as he can no longer till the land.

Read Also: 2 Harare men die, 1 is critically injured after being struck by lightning on same day.

Gokwe North District Development Coordinator Mr Martin Musakanda said the District Civil Protection Unit was on the ground to assess the losses.

“I can confirm that we received a report on a disaster that hit villagers in Madzivazvido. The area was affected by severe thunderstorms which caused the loss of 18 cattle belonging to three villagers in the area due to a lightning strike,” said Mr Musakanda.

He added that two boys who were herding the cattle escaped death by a whisker.

“One of them had to be pulled from under a cow struck by lightning while the other one was thrown several feet away. He, however, landed safely and no injuries were reported,” said Mr Musakanda.

The District Civil Protection Committee has since visited the farmers to asses and value their losses. The Veterinary Services Department has also advised the farmers on the proper methods of disposing of carcasses such as burning and burying.

Mr Musakanda said the civil protection unit was also conducting safety awareness campaigns during the rainy season.

“We are also looking at having continuous awareness campaigns on safety precautions during this rainy season to protect the people, their property and livestock.

“We urge them to not walk, run or herd cattle in open areas when it’s raining and not to stand under a lone tree as well, among other measures,” said Mr Musakanda.

It was established by research work at the University of Zimbabwe in the 1980s, that when a single bolt kills a large number of cattle, it is not that the beasts are all struck, but rather that a high-voltage potential electric field is created, and the cattle die when a current passes from one pair of legs to the other as the voltage drops rapidly over distance. This is why people are now advised to crouch if caught in the open, rather than lie down, so there is little chance they will be struck and they are much safer from a near miss. Herald



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