1,500 Mwatate elephants driven back to the park
THE Kenya Wildlife Services has managed to drive back more than 1,500 stray elephants that have been terrorising villagers in Mwatate district. For the last one month,residents of Godoma, Mwashoti, Mwatika and other adjacent villages have been living in fear following the elephant invasion which also caused crop destruction in local farms. Area district warden, Samuel Rukaria said they launched an air and ground operation to drive thousands of elephants in the area back to protected areas.
Rukaria, however, said the problem will not end anytime soon as the elephants are on their normal migration to Mkomanzi National Park in Tanzania in search of pastures and water. "Some of these villages fall on the elephant migration corridor that is why elephant invasion is persistent in some of the villages especially those in Maktau," Rukaria said.
"We have deployed several Problem Animal Control Unit teams in hot spot areas to monitor the movement of the elephants and ensure they don't cause further destruction on the farms," he said. Rukaria said it is difficult to predict the migration patterns of the wildlife due to climate change. "Studies are ongoing to establish the new wildlife behaviours that have come as a result of climate change," he said adding that rainfall patterns had changed thus affecting wildlife movements too. A few months ago tension was high in Maktau area as the elephants were migrating to the Tsavo ecosystem from Mkomanzi.
"Maktau area and its adjacent villages is a perennial human wildlife conflict hot spot since it falls on the elephant migration corridor," he said. Area councillor Flumence Mshila expressed concerns over the destruction caused by the elephants and predicted a massive food shortage in the area in the coming months. "We were hoping to get good harvests in the next two months but the elephants have robbed us of our food," the councillor said.