Wednesday, October 17

Human Wildlife Conflict

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Thigaa village in Tharaka Nithi is surrounded by the Mount Kenya, Meru and Mwingi national parks in central Kenya. A lone elephant lost its way and strayed into homesteads where it attacked two people – an elderly lady and a middle aged man who are in hospital in critical condition.

When KWS soldiers gunned down the stray wild animal, now dangerous, villagers descended on the carcass with machetes and crude implements. Despite warnings against consuming un-inspected meat, people feasted on the meat claiming they felt vindicated as it had destroyed their crops.

This is not unlike the story of the young hippo that found itself bobbing amongst the beach in Shela Lamu and having been killed by KWS despite not having harming anyone, quickly became a source of food for people as they rushed to grab a share of it.

Neighbouring Laikipia is home to more than 6,300 elephants that share the 4,000 square miles with farmers. For years, the great beasts would descend on the farms, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake, and sometimes, death. Farmers claim they cannot remember the number of times they woke up to find their abundant maize fields cleared overnight. The farmers stood little chance in the face of the seven tonnes. They came in herds and farmers were almost giving up and surrendering their farms to the elephants when help finally came in the way of fresh funding for higher electric fencing.

Fences were earlier completely inadequate, the animals simply played with them. The new higher fences with regulated electricity has covered 68 km and still has 14 more to cover, costing Kshs 600,000 per kilometre and KShs 80,000 per kilometre per year, they are not cheap but according to the installers, worth it.

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