“The villagers had prepared their self-defence with utmost secrecy”
We learned the news through a bush taxi driver on the evening of the attack. He had gone through Fenoevo that day and told us he had seen the bodies of “dahalos.” When I got there the next day, the villagers had lined up 17 bodies in front of the city hall. They had not had the time to collect the other bodies that were still scattered on the site of the attack [in total, 90 “dahalos” were killed]. In the afternoon, they dug three pits not far from the city hall and buried the poachers there.A couple of days before the attack, there were rumours in the village that the poachers were going to come steal the cattle.But the villagers did not inform the local police station [Editor’s note: which is located 20 kilometres from the village]. The first reason for this is that there aren’t any phone lines in Fenoevo. The villagers also told me that they wanted to make sure their ambush succeeded, and so they had to keep it as secret as possible. The women and the children of the village went to hide in the hills with the herds. The men left their houses but hid nearby, waiting for the “dahalos” to arrive.On Friday at 6 a.m., the thieves arrived in the village with rifles. Unable to find any zebus, they entered the houses one by one, looking for the breeders. They eventually decided to leave the village, at which point the hidden villagers came out of their hiding places and encircled them. With recruits from neighbouring villages, the villagers must have been about a thousand strong. Lacking guns, the villagers used rocks and “lefona” [iron spears], and they killed everyone.Had the villagers not killed the poachers, it is the villagers who would be dead today. The poachers have no moral qualms about attacking villagers. But now, the villagers of Fenoevo are very fearful of reprisals from other zebu poachers.