KWS threatened with lawsuit as elephants invade farms in Taita Taveta

Sunday January 6 2019

Mr Mwakaba Mwakio at his farm in Ndara,

Mr Mwakaba Mwakio at his farm in Ndara, Sagalla, Taita Taveta County. His maize crop has been damaged by a herd of elephants that strayed from the Tsavo National Park. PHOTO | LUCY MKANYIKA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

LUCY MKANYIKA
By LUCY MKANYIKA
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Sagalla residents in Taita Taveta County have threatened to sue the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) for failing to drive out elephants that have invaded their farms leaving a trail of destruction.

Led by their ward representative Godwin Kilele, the residents said KWS has failed to stop wildlife straying into their farms from the Tsavo National Park.

Mr Kilele said despite residents staging a demonstration to KWS offices in Voi two weeks ago, elephants are still roaming the area.

“We will sue them for laxity. They have failed to manage their animals yet it is their responsibility to ensure the elephants remain in the park,” he said.

'MIGRATION'

The herds of elephants are migrating from Mkomanzi National Park in Tanzania to Tsavo East National Park National.

Mr Kilele said the elephants are migrating in hundreds, endangering lives of residents.

“They promised us that they will act in a week’s time. Two weeks down the line, the situation is the same,” he said.

He said the residents whose crops were destroyed by the elephants will report their cases at the Voi Police Station on Tuesday.

“All residents who are suffering losses will be writing statements at the police station. I ask the police to prepare Occurrence Books (OB) because the number is huge,” he said.

The residents also demanded government officials to visit the area to assess crop damage.

'THREATS'

The MCA claimed he was being trailed by strange vehicles.

“I have reported the matter to the police. Right now I cannot walk freely because I don’t know what these suspicious people want,” he said.

He also accused other county leaders for turning a deaf ear to the resident's woes.

“No one is supporting us in this fight. It is a very unfortunate situation,” he said.

'AFFECT LEARNING'

Ndara village elder Silas Mwambiji said residents are now forced to escort children to school.

As a result of the elephant invasion, Mr Mwambiji said pupils sometimes may have to report to school late or go home early in the evening..

“The situation will definitely affect learning in our schools. The government is acting as if this area is a national park,” he said.

Residents whose crops were destroyed said they will now depend on relief food from the government and well-wishers.

“We only get a few kilograms of maize, beans and rice. They aid cannot sustain our families,” said Mwanga resident Costinah Kiboko.

She said her four-acre farm where she had planted maize crops was destroyed by the marauding elephants last week.

Governor Granton Samboja and other county leaders have been pushing to wrest control of Tsavo National Park from the national government.

The leaders want the park to be converted into a game reserve to benefit residents.

Last year, the governor said he will escalate the debate by seeking residents’ views before petitioning the Senate and President Uhuru Kenyatta on the issue.

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