Star (Kenya)

A herd of elephants destroyed six acres of maize in Lorian village, Laikipia West, on Saturday night, causing a loss of millions of shillings.

Farmer Duncan Mbogo yesterday said 18 mature elephants and three calves invaded his farm.

The animals from Marmanet Forest have been wreaking havoc on farmers in Laikipia, but they usually do not invade in large herds.

“Normally, about four to seven elephants would invade a given farm as they appear to distribute themselves across the county. But this time, it appears they could not cross the overflowing Ngare Naro River with calves, hence they all came to my shamba,” Mbogo said

He said they normally pour petrol and light fires that scare the animals away. But this time it did not work.

”We tried to scare them away, we screamed and mobilised residents. We lit tyres and tried every way but in vain. They only left after eating to their fill and destroying everything,” Mbogo said

He said he expected to harvest green maize in three weeks and make a good profit, but it has all been destroyed and he has no more seed to plant again.

The animals recently destroyed his 10 acres of tomatoes, yet the government does nothing to mitigate the problem, the farmer saThe animals also destroyed David Kijana’s tomato farm.

The farmers have urged the county and national governments to intervene and also compensate them.

“If Cheruyiot grazes in my shamba, I charge him. Njenga too compensates me if his animals stray into my garden. Now the owners of these elephants must compensate me. And they belong to our President Uhuru Kenyatta. Another day I saw him burning ivory in campaigns to protect the elephants,” Mbogo said

He said if the farmers killed the animals they would be in trouble as the government would charge them. But the same government does not care when the animals destroy farmers’ livelihoods, Mbogo added.

Kijana told the Star more than 700 elephants are found in Laikipia. The challenge, he said, is to know whom they belong.

“When you go to KWS they disown them. The ranchers and conservationists too disown them. But we believe they belong to the national government,” he said.

Kijana said it appears farmers have no right to live in Laikipia. Should that be the case, he said, the government should evacuate them.

The farmers said Laikipia Governor Nderitu Muriithi, during his campaigns, pledged to erect an electric fence around Marmanet Forest to stop human-wildlife conflict. They are now pleading with him to ensure this is done.