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Friday, 20 July 2012

Buffaloes invade maize farms

By Dennis Kipkirui

Buffaloes from Laikipia Ranching Company invaded maize farms in Nyakinyua village on Monday night. They destroyed about seven acres of maize which belongs to Mr. Bernard Ndongai. Only three acres were left untouched by the buffaloes. The ranching company is approximately one kilometre from the farms.
Section of a maize field destroyed by buffaloes
Ndongai who was visibly angry blamed the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) for not doing enough to arrest the situation which has been persistent for close to a decade. He claims that one prominent farmer in the area is the only one who is being compensated whenever wild animals invade farms. He believes it is because of his connection with government officials that gives him an edge over the rest of the farmers in the area since he plants every year without fear of animal invasion. The farmer in question owns over one hundred acres of land and borders the conservancy. He is a brother to a former powerful cabinet minister.

Laikipia County is synonymous with ranches. Three quarter of the county is occupied by ranches while only a quarter is inhabited by human. Human-wildlife conflict is a frequent occurrence. It is only recently when lions killed donkeys in the area. Human life has not been spared either by the wildlife.

Elephants are a common eyesore to the residents during rainy seasons because they come out and destroy crops. Despite the buffalo invasion in Ndongai’s farm, residents see it as a rare invasion since elephants are the only one known to invade crop farms. Ndongai alleges that he lost two and half acres of maize to elephants in 2011 but was never compensated.

Residents have stepped up measures to curb this perennial problem. They have hired reservists to guard their crops four months to harvest time. Each farmer contributes Ksh. 4000 every month from July to November. The guards use torches and thunder brushes to ward off invading animals. However, a new challenge has emerged. Lions and cheetahs have been roaming in the area of late. This has become a threat to the guards who are now not willing to come out in the night to scare away the herbivorous for fear of attack by the ravaging canines.

Ndongai has initiated a process towards compensation for the losses incurred through the wild animals. When Laikipia Rural Voices (LRV) visited his farm, he was planning to visit Rumuruti town the seat of Laikipia West District to launch his complain in the KWS offices.

Lately,KWS has witnessed a proliferation of human-wildlife conflict. Six lions were killed a month ago in Kitengela by Maasai morans after killing their livestock. This week Maasai elders from Amboseli swore to kill the animals if they found their way to their farms.This is after the KWS Director Dr.Julius Kipng'etich failed to turn up in a meeting expected to discuss how to deal with the problem in the area.He instead sent a warden asking the elders to send representatives to Nairobi for discussions. 

Only two days ago elephants were found straying in Kajiado area. It took the intervention of KWS chopper to drive them back to a nearby conservancy and save them from the furious mob baying for their blood.

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