Sunday, April 15, 2012

KWS begins to drive back stray animals

A Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) helicopter rounds up elephants on March 15, 2011 during a collaring exercise in Tsavo East National Park. Photo/FILE

A Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) helicopter rounds up elephants on March 15, 2011 during a collaring exercise in Tsavo East National Park. Photo/FILE 

The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has mounted a massive operation to drive back to the Tsavo National Park hundreds of elephants that have strayed into human settlement areas.

KWS officials last week reported that more than 200 jumbos were running riot in various parts of Taita Taveta County, disrupting businesses.

The worst hit areas include Kishushe, Mwakitau, Mwachabo, Mwatika and Msorongo locations in Mwatate District.

A senior warden in-charge of Southern Sector of Tsavo West National Park, Mr Samuel Rukaria, said KWS personnel had launched air and ground operations to herd back the elephants to the national park.

“We have a team on the ground that is driving the herd back to the park. The residents should not panic at all,” Mr Rukaria said.

He added that Problem Animal Management Unit, a specialised team that handles elephants, was also in the region to ensure the operation was executed smoothly.

The warden said the perennial human-wildlife conflict would end once the electric fence around the park was completed.

Plans to erect a permanent electric fence had been opposed by some local leaders, demanding that a long-standing boundary dispute be sorted out first.

“The electric fence can minimise frequent encounters between elephants and humans,” he said.

Elephant invasion in the region is a common phenomenon with food crops estimated to be worth millions being destroyed annually. A number of people too have been killed by the stray animals. (KNA)

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