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Farmers Pay Hunters N20,000 Monthly To Ward Off Hippopotamus Attacks In Gombe

The farmers have highlighted that these persistent attacks are leading to financial losses and are also undermining the government's efforts towards ensuring food security.
By Farouq Abubakar

Farmers residing in the Difa community within the Yamaltu/Deba Local Government Area of Gombe State have expressed their distress regarding ongoing assaults by hippopotamuses that are causing extensive damage to their agricultural fields.

The farmers have highlighted that these persistent attacks are leading to financial losses and are also undermining the government’s efforts towards ensuring food security. Ali Umaru, a retired civil servant and farmer within the community, conveyed that the annual impact of these hippo attacks on their farmlands has reached an intolerable and highly exasperating level. Umaru elaborated that these animals have established a presence within the community due to its proximity to a river and its location merely two kilometers away from the Dadin Kowa dam.

He further explained that these animals, often appearing in significant numbers, frequently encroach upon their agricultural lands, causing extensive destruction to the crops planted by the farmers, particularly during the dry season.

“They (hippopotamuses) come in the night mostly in a group of 10 to eat our rice, okro, watermelon, and others and retire from our farm by 6am and go back to their hiding places.

“This is very painful because the damage is pushing farmers into poverty and reducing the food that should have been sold to humans.

” The menace is reducing efforts at ensuring food security because farmers who cultivated 50 hectares may end up harvesting only 20 hectares, losing 30 hectares in some cases,” he told the News Agency of Nigeria on Friday.

Another farmer, Mrs Lois Joshua, said, ” Last year, the hippos ate three hectares out of the 50 I cultivated and they normally come close to harvest and soon we will be harvesting and many of us are very nervous.”

According to a report by NAN, Amina Nuhu, another farmer in the area, mentioned that community farmers have taken to paying a monthly fee of N20,000 to engage young individuals who act as guards for their farmland. These guards are particularly active during nighttime, employing torchlights to deter the animals from invading their farms.

In response to this situation, Ibrahim Yakubu, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry in Gombe State, provided his perspective.

Ibrahim Yakubu, said, “This is the first time I am hearing of hippopotamus attacks on farmlands.

“You know a hippopotamus is a wildlife, so they can write to the Ministry of Environment and we can investigate, else we will not act on the farmers’ complaint.”

Nevertheless, Abubakar Hassan, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, implored the farmers to exercise patience, reassuring them that the government is diligently working towards resolving the challenges they are facing. He further encouraged them to refrain from causing harm to the animals, emphasizing that these creatures are classified as endangered species.

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