• The petition wants laws changed to include vervet monkeys as wildlife species that attract compensation if they destroy property
• The farmers said they have been left food-insecure as the monkeys destroy their cash crops
Murang’a residents have signed a petition seeking to compel the national assembly to include vervet monkeys among the wild animals that attract compensation once they destroy property.
The petition has been signed by about 2,000 residents, led by deputy speaker Gachui Mungai.
“The people of Gatanga, Maragua, Kandara, Kigumo and even Gatundu North have been left food-insecure as the monkeys ravage their farms season after season,” he said at one of the farms yesterday.
The residents have been incurring heavy losses for years due to the destruction of their crops by the animals.
They say the monkeys have devastated an aggregated 100 acres of avocados and more than 200 acres of mangoes and pineapple farms.
Despite this, the farmers have said they are not liable for compensation by the government as vervet monkeys have not been listed as animals that attract compensation.
The residents said they are arrested for trapping, poisoning and killing the monkeys despite the animals seriously affecting their sources of income.
Mungai said massive invasion of farms by monkeys has made it difficult for farmers to fully commercialise their agricultural activities through contract farming due to reduced harvests.
The petition wants the National Assembly to review the Kenya Wildlife Management and Conservation Act 2013 and include vervet monkeys as wildlife species that attract compensation if they destroy property.
The farmers also want the Cabinet Secretary in charge of Kenya Wildlife Service to amend the Wildlife Management and Conservation regulations 2016 to include compensation over vervet monkeys.
Gachui, who is also the Kihumbu-ini MCA, said this will reprieve farmers and help them continue with their lives, adding that the petition will be presented to Speaker Moses Wetangula in the next few days.
John Karanja, a resident of Kihumbu-ini in Gatanga, said he is unable to make any money from his cash crops, which include macadamia, avocados, mangoes and bananas.
This is because their vervet monkeys destroy them all before they mature.
The same crops, he said, provided enough income to support his family years ago before the monkeys arrived.
“If they don’t compensate us, let them allow us to start killing and eating them the same way they eat our food crops,” he said.
Mary Wambui, also a resident, said they have been forced to completely change their lifestyle to accommodate the wild animals.
“We can no longer cook our food outside the house using a jiko,” Wambui said.
“I have never seen them eat githeri but if you leave vegetables outside, they take it all and you may never even find the sufuria.”
Children can also not be left outside unattended due to fear of being attacked by the monkeys as they look for food.
Wambui said some farmers fear the animals have been milking their goats.
They don’t fear women, she said, and when one tries to chase them away, they take a stance and make noises, forcing the woman to walk away instead.
She said they would be happy if a permanent solution was found, saying elderly women are afraid to go into their farms alone.