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Tuesday, 21 February 2012

A stormy meeting on human wildlife conflict expected today at Wangwachi in sipili Ng’arua


By Wa Joe

A heated debate is expected today during a crisis meeting to discuss human-wildlife conflict in Laikipia West district.

The meeting which will be held at Wangwachi dam in Sipili, Ng’arua will bring together hundreds of residents from Sipili division and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) officers who will be trying to seek a solution to a series of human-wildlife conflict cases that have occurred for the last several years. 

The meeting follows a spate of attacks on residents by wild animals including elephants and lions. Last year, a woman aged about 40 years was devoured by a lion which attacked her as she was fetching water at the dam. Residents claimed the man eater lion was hungry since it was lactating.

Another elderly woman was trampled on by an elephant at Mwenje village a few kilometers from Wangwachi during last year’s Christmas season.

And as if that was not enough, and just before the dust had settled, a herd of elephants broke out of a nearby private conservancy and flocked into the residents’ farms near Nyakinyua primary school in Kiriko area where they spent the better part of the day destroying many acres of maize fields.

Game rangers from Nyahururu KWS station killed two of them giving the residents a chance to feast on them.
Today’s meeting will also be attended by the provincial administrators, heads of relevant government departments like agriculture, forest and livestock.

The meeting seeks to among others resolve the issue of re-erecting an electric fence round the neighbouring forest which was destroyed by wild animals. 

The fence which is powered by solar had been erected along the Laikipia Ranch forest line several years ago to keep off wild animals from the residential area. 

However, the lines were cut off by wild animals and the ranch management failed to repair the damaged areas in time exposing the residents to the beasts which include cats and elephants.

Just like human beings, wild animals keep off the electric line for fear of electrocution or electric shock but this does not deter them from attempting to cross over the fence.  So whenever the conservancy managers fail or forget to witch on the power in case they had switched it off for whatever reason, the wild animals break out of the ranch towards the villages where they eat livestock, destroy crops and worse still attack people leaving them dead or seriously injured if they are lucky.

The residents had earlier called for another meeting sometimes at the end of October last year where they discussed the issues at length with the District Game Wardens and other senior KWS officers. 

The problem however seem to recur and a permanent solution is what the residents are yearning for.

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