A sombre has mood engulfed a school in Kiboko, Kibwezi East in Makueni County after a teacher went missing, with locals saying he could have been killed by a wild animal.
The teacher’s disappearance has caused panic in schools bordering Chyulu Forest.
The body of the missing teacher is yet to be found a week after he went missing as police fear that the animals might have dragged it deep into the forest as they only recovered his clothes on June 18.
Mr Isaac Githiga, the deputy headteacher of Mbiuni Secondary School is said to have been attacked on his way to an official meeting minutes after he had reported to school.
Makindu Sub-County Police Commander Joseph Muriuki said that the teacher’s clothes were discovered by children who were grazing in the area.
“We visited the scene after the children looking after livestock discovered some clothes and blood at the scene where we discovered the teacher’s Identity card but it seems the animals dragged the body into the forest,” Mr Muriuki said.
Mr Muriuki said that this is among five cases of deaths by wildlife reported in the last three months, although three of the cases are being handled in Kajiado County.
Mbiuni Secondary School, which is located 200 meters from the forest, does not have a perimeter fence.
When the Nation visited the school, teachers were talking in low tones but they declined to talk to journalists.
This recent case has caused panic with some parents pulling out students from schools near the forest while teachers are demanding for transfers.
This is the plight of over ten schools in the area with education suffering a major setback due to the human-wildlife conflict that has hit the area since 2012.
Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Kibwezi Branch Executive Secretary Gabriel Kisilu said insecurity is a major concern due to the animals which invade schools as they look for water and food.
Mr Kisilu said that the rate at which teachers are demanding to be transferred from schools bordering forests is alarming. He said the teachers are fearing for their lives.
He said that students’ dropout rate has also increased due to the high poverty levels brought by destruction of property.
“This area is now breeding thugs as parents can no longer cater for school fees as they are unable to do farming which is the only source of income, hence high number of school dropouts,” he added.
The Knut official said that over ten primary and secondary schools have been affected by the human-wildlife conflict.
The schools include Kaunguni, Yikisemei, Wiikiamba, Kannani, Kiboko, Yinzau, Uvileni, Katangi, Mbiuni, Soto, Mukameni, Ilatu and Kyandulu.
“The schools’ performance is also wanting as students cannot attend morning classes due to these animals. Sometimes the students find the animals in school compounds which poses a grave risk,” he said.
Mr Kisilu is also demanding that the government moves in and ends the perennial menace.
At the same time, he is demanding for compensation from the Kenya Wildlife Services for the Mbiuni Secondary School teacher.
Some disgruntled residents pointed an accusing finger at some cartels which they said have blocked the erection of an electric fence along the 60-kilometre stretch bordering Chyulu National Park.
The residents said that the cartel has also invaded about 40 acres of the Kenya Agricultural Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro).
Those encroaching on the land have been fighting the government and a donor who had offered to fence off the park at a cost of Sh129 million.
The disputed land is used for grazing and as an access point for charcoal burners who fear that their business will suffer if the fence is erected.
Kalro owns over 70,000 acres of the disputed land.