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Taita Taveta: Residents decry rising cases of human-wildlife conflict Author: Tuko.co.ke, Masolo Mabonga UPDATED: 2 DAYS AGO VIEWS: 2636 Category: Local News, Crime – Residents lamented the wild animals were disrupting education and businesses in the area – Elephants and lions reportedly roam from one school to another, putting lives of children and teachers at risk – Locals complained that Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) officials were reluctant to address the escalating menace in the county – Mwatate and Voi constituencies are the most affected areas Taita Taveta residents have decried escalating cases of human-wildlife conflicts which have endangered their lives. The region is surrounded by two major national parks, Tsavo East and Tsavo West, which cover about 62% of Taita Taveta county.

Parents and locals have expressed concerns over rampant cases of wild animals particularly elephants and lions being left to roam around aimlessly and storming schools, putting the lives of pupils and teachers at risk. This week, pupils from Kighombo Primary School in Rong’e Ward, Voi sub-county, came face to face with stray elephants from Tsavo East which trespassed the school compound while the kids were playing.

Unaware of the impending danger, the excited pupils ran around the animals enjoying the free view of the highly protected and endeared species which are often confined in parks and game reserves. The elephants later walked freely into the neighbouring Mwasere Girls High School in Voi. Elephants storm a school in Taita Taveta.

Photo.Monica Wambugha Source: Original Mwatate and Voi constituencies which neighbour Tsavo West and Tsavo East National parks respectively have been the most affected. In April, a lion attacked and killed an 11-year-old girl at her home in Dhovuni village, Voi constituency. Two other people were also seriously injured by the same wild cat. Most of the victims are often attacked in their compounds, on their way to or from work and school. Taita Taveta residents decry rising cases of human-wildlife conflict.

Monica Wambugha Source: Original

READ ALSO: Police updates list of VIPs entitled to special clearance on roads, includes chief justice In cases of emergencies, the locals complained that the KWS officials never respond on time when called to contain the situation. They, however, respond swiftly when they are informed that a wild animal has been attacked or killed, the locals claimed. “At times ,the elephants might spend an entire day near our homestead. We are forced to lock ourselves in doors to avoid being attacked. We cannot even answer to the call of nature when the elephants are around because we use latrines which are outside the house,” said Hannan Shali a resident in Mbololo, Voi. John Kashere, a business man at Maktau, Mwatate sub-county lamented that the situation has affected business operations and education in many parts. “When wild animals are on the loose, it affects businesses and makes it difficult for our children to go to school thus disrupting learning for fear of safety,” said Kashere. Residents are demanding KWS keeps the straying wild animals off their homesteads saying they were causing massive destruction to crops, livestock, and pose a huge risk to their own lives. Farmers have also had a fair share of losses due to crop destruction by the elephants. Their domestic animals such as sheep, goats, and cows have not been spared either. The electric fences put by KWS has done little to stop wild animals leaving the parks and causing destruction. Taita Taveta residents decry incresing human-wildlife conflict.

Photo: Monica Wambugha Source: Original According to reports, since 2014, 1,500 compensation claims have been filed at Taita Taveta county, with KSh 35 million paid to families of the seven victims who died as a result of wildlife attacks. However, no money has been given to over 1,000 farmers who lost crops and livestock due to wildlife attack. The national government through Kenya Wildlife Service has a mechanism of compensating families for wildlife-related deaths and destruction of property, but locals say the compensation process is an uphill task and almost impossible to meet. The Senate adopted a motion by Taita Taveta Senator Jones Mwaruma seeking to compel the national government to compensate human-wildlife conflict victims within 90 days from the day a claim is filed. The motion also seeks to compel the government to allocate adequate funds in subsequent financial years to compensate people affected by the human-wildlife conflict. Story by Monica Wambugha – TUKO.co.ke correspondent Read more: https://www.tuko.co.ke/306866-taita-taveta-residents-decry-rising-cases-human-wildlife-conflict.html#306866