- The Wildlife Conservation and Management Act 2013 requires Sh5 million to be paid for human death.
- Various partners are stepping in to install solar-powered elephant deterrent fence that will ensure there's peaceful coexistence between locals and animals.
Amanda Ndau has been engaging in farming in the sleepy village of Mlengwa in Taita Taveta county for some time now.
On her farm are bananas, sukuma wiki, beans, tomatoes, spinach, pawpaws and maize blossoms.
Ndau is however disturbed.
“I have not slept for the past three days because elephants have been destroying my crops,” she says.
In Taita Taveta, human-wildlife conflict is common.
Villages that have been affected the most by human-elephant conflict include Mlengwa, Gimba, Ongoni, Kalambe and Pii.
On Ndau’s farm, the fresh footprints of elephants are visible.
“Rangers from the Kenya Wildlife Service have been trying to remove them (elephants). However, they have not succeeded as they keep coming back and destroying our crops,” Ndau says.
Ndau reveals that elephants used to come to the area between December and February each year.
This year, she says, they started coming as early as August.
Ndau blasted KWS for failing to compensate them after the destruction of their crops.
“We have been getting losses year in year out without any help from the authorities. I have been calling them every time we see elephants but they take time to come,” she says.
KWS offices are in Voi town, several kilometres away from the village.
Ndau says they have suffered a lot, especially when it comes to farming , which is a tall order in the arid and semi-arid area. Long pipes are used to pump water into the farms.
Ndau said they use fire to chase the elephants from the farms even as they wait for KWS rangers to respond.
Other methods which come in handy whenever a jumbo is spotted include making loud sounds as elephants naturally don’t like noise.
Edward Mwachongo has also been a victim of human-elephant conflict losing crops worth Sh200,000 destroyed by the animals.
Mwachongo’s effort to get compensation from KWS has failed.
He said jumbos destroyed his pawpaws and half an acre of tomatoes in 2016.
“I’m still hopeful that KWS will move with speed and compensate me,” he said.
KWS wrote to Mwachongo stating that his claim had been overvalued.
KWS said the Ministerial Wildlife Conservation Compensation Committee concluded deliberations on the human-wildlife conflict claims in respect of crop destruction occasioned by wildlife from various counties in the year 2019.
The service said the purpose of the letter dated February 19, 2020, was to inform him that his claim was deferred by the committee for them to clarify how the amount was arrived at.
Mwachongo said following up his claim has been a rat and mouse game between him and authorities.
The government has however been insisting that it does not have resources to clear the claims which currently stands at Sh14 billion.
The Wildlife Conservation and Management Act 2013 requires Sh5 million to be paid for human death, Sh3 million for injury with permanent disability and up to Sh2 million for other injuries, depending on their extent.
Others, however, have not been lucky. Juma Mwashigadi lost his life on December 11, 2020, as he was riding home on a motorbike.
Mwashigadi’s aunt Constance Salim said she was informed that Mwashigadi had been attacked by a lone elephant.
“He was attacked as he came back home in the evening,” she says as she fights back tears.
She said elephants have been coming to the area to look for water and food.
Mlengwa village elder Albert Kilango said cases of jumbos killing people is not new in the area.
“An old man who was coming back home after working in his farm was killed by an elephant that had a baby. After killing him, the elephant went ahead and buried him,” he said.
Kilango said they looked for him for days, unaware he had been buried.
“We love to coexist with wildlife. However, a solution needs to be found to address human-elephant conflict,” he said.
Partners have however stepped in and are currently putting solar-powered elephant deterrent fence to keep off jumbos.
The project was funded by BMZ- German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development through WWF-Germany. WWF-Kenya is the implementing partner.
Dr Martin Mulama, the WWF-Kenya Kenya Landscape Manager, said they are also creating water pans in strategic locations to mitigate conflict emanating from scarce watering sources.
“The nature-based enterprises that have been initiated by WWF-Kenya within this landscape are all climate-friendly thus go a long way in promoting climate change adaptation as they provide additional if not an alternative stream of income to the communities while benefiting wildlife conservation,” Mulama said.
Jimmy Muli, the installer of the predator-proof fence, said it will keep away jumbos from people’s farms.
“The fence will cover 4.5 kilometres in the area that is settled,” he said.
Muli said a section of the fence will have eight wire strands while the other area will be covered by three strands.
He said the wire strands in the area under farms will be five to six feet to allow farm owners to move around while doing their work.
Muli said the flow of currents within the fence will be 8,000 amperes.
He added that the fence is installed in such a way that wildlife is allowed to access water in the river.
“We will train one person for three months to help us maintain the fence once it will be handed over to the community,” he said.