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Friday, 15 August 2014

Elephants damages crops in Matwiku

By James Mwangi
Residents of Matwiku village in Ng’arua Division, Laikipia County are in despair after their crops were destroyed by a herd of elephants suspected to have come from Laikipia Nature Conservancy on August 10, 2014. The elephants invaded the farms late in the night and ate any edible farm produce. The villagers said that they tried to alert the game reserve police but none of them was available.
They tried to light fire as well as using every possible means to chase away the elephants but this did not deter the elephants. They finally had to give up and watched the elephants from a distance as they continued their destruction.
Ibrahim assessing the damage done to his crops
“I went to report the matter to the police station. They requested me to write a report then take it to the agriculture officer and after that to Rumuruti. I have a swollen leg, I cannot even walk comfortably and yet they require me to travel all the way to Rumuruti,” said Julia Njeri, One of the affected farmers in the area.
The famers have tried their best to keep away the wild animals including coming up with innovative ways with little success.
Every night a group of volunteers usually remain in the farms to guide against destruction of crops by elephants. They have erected makeshift stalls at their farms next to the ranch fence, where they spend the nights to protect their crops. When they spot the elephants they either light fire or use a torch to try and scare them away. Some have also dug trenches between their farms and the ranch to keep away the elephants.
Ibrahim Mwangi, a youth farmer in the area said that his half acre maize farm turned into “manger” for feeding elephants. Ibrahim has now given up on farming since he believes that he cannot benefit from farming due to frequent human wildlife conflict in the area.
“It is really painful especially for a young farmer like me to see all my crops which survived the dry spell being destroyed by wild animals,” said Ibrahim.
Apart from elephants the area residents also have to contend with monkeys and wild pigs. The wild pigs and monkeys usually get out through the broken fence. Some youths have been using “inugi,” some traditional tools in form of metallic cans filled with red hot charcoal to scare away the monkeys from their farms.
The villagers are now calling upon the relevant authorities to intervene as confrontations between humans and elephants have been on the rise in the area and this they said pose a security risk as they fear that they can also be attacked by the elephants.
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