Kiunjuri strengthens case against ranchers
Public Works assistant minister Mwangi Kiunjuri collected signatures, witness statements and other evidence from Laikipia residents to strengthen a court case in which he intends sue local ranchers and the government. He also wants the government to be compelled to adequately compensate people whose relatives have been killed, those maimed, and anyone who has suffered losses as a result of stray wild animals.
Accompanied by his lawyers, Kiunjuri visited Laikipia West over the weekend where he collected more than 50 witness statements and hundreds of signatures from victims of wildlife conflict. The move comes barely four days after a herd of 30 marauding elephants from Rumuruti forest invaded farms within Muhotetu village and destroyed crops.
He had given a one month ultimatum to the government and Laikipia Nature Conservancy director Kuki Gullman which elapsed on January 15. He wanted local private ranches to be fenced of. Kiunjuri, who is also the MP for the neighbouring Laikipia East constituency took the move after a 60 year old woman was trampled upon by an elephant on the eve of Christmas day and another eaten earlier.
He defended President Kibaki and immediate former head of civil service Francis Muthaura saying they were commited to protecting lives of Kenyans and their property, but blamed Internal Security Minister George Saitoti for failing to contain the human- wildlife conflict in Laikipia. Kuki on her part terms Kiunjuri as a racist who wants to gain political mileage by inciting people to ruin the environment.
She says the local community must learn to live with the wildlife especially elephants which she says are like birds of the air and their roaming tendencies are unstoppable. She is a strict vegetarian owing to be belief of wildlife protection and her son died as a result of a snake bite. Kiunjuri said Saitoti has always defended the ranchers while he knows it was their responsibility to keep the wildlife sanctuaries fenced off. "Saitoti's officers have been harassing innocent people protesting against wildlife invasion in their farms. Don't they have a right to live in peace and harmony like other Kenyans?" he posed.
Kiunjuri observed that the government has been issuing licenses to ranchers without following their activities. Laikipia Nature Conservancy has of late been on the spot after claims emerged that lions killing people and livestock and elephants that destroy crops emanate from there. The residents want the government to intervene adding that should the Kenya Wildlife Service fail to contain the animals within the Rumuruti forest, they will kill them.
On politics, the assistant minister urged local residents to register as voters when time comes and vote in large numbers to good leaders once elections are called. He castigated a section of leaders taking advantage of misfortunes that has befallen Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North M.P William Ruto. He said it was unfortunate for them adding that it was only that it was only through parliament that will be decided whether the duo will contest for the presidency in the forthcoming general elections.