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Narok is human-wildlife hotspot - KWS

Friday, September 23, 2011 - 00:00 -- BY KIPLANG'AT KIRUI

Narok county is designated as one of the human-wildlife conflict hot spots in the country, Kenya Wildlife Service boss Julius Kipng'etich said. Kipng'etich said the elephants have been identified as the most problematic animals in the region. He made the remarks yesterday in Narok Town after he officially launched the  translocation of 50 elephants from Narok South and Narok North to the Maasai Mara National Reserve.

The KWS boss said the additions of more farms and fragmentation of land has led to the destruction of animal habitats that has resulted in human-wildlife conflict. “Narok is the leading wheat producer in the country. The more opening of land to agriculture activities has led to elephants being cut-off from those in Maasai Mara,” said Kipng'etich.He said for close to two decades, the elephants have been stranded in Narok after their migratory routes were blocked by human activity.

The first phase of the translocation will cost Sh7 million. The second phase will move 150 elephants and the whole exercise will cost Sh31 million. Yesterday a family of four elephants was relocated to Maasai Mara. “We have put in place a long-term post-release monitoring plan, which will include deploying GSM collars on the translocated elephants to guide proactive action in the event the  elephants attempt to return to the capture area,”said Kipng'etich adding that the exercise involve 30 technical people. The exercise which was attended by the locals to witness the relocation,is now sigh of relief to them  whom they said the animals have killed people, destroyed property and were obstructing children from going to school.

The KWS Boss said that the locals agreed that the jumbos be moved to Maasai Mara from earlier plans by KWS to relocated to Aberdare National Park. Dr.Kipngetich  urged Narok County Council assist them in the relocation of elephants which he said it involves them indirectly. He called Kenyans to turn their land into conservation as alternative land use and would boost them economically. “Maasai Mara is a unique best place for wildlife in the world. So when you talk of tourism out you talk of wildlife,” he said.