Meru County Commissioner (CC) Fred Ndunga has called on all police reservists and Kenya police officers to join Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) officers in containing elephants that have caused massive destruction of farmers’ crops in Kandebene, Tigania west.
Speaking during a crisis meeting with the affected farmers and local leaders led by Tigania West MP Dr John Mutunga and Athwana MCA Jim Muchui, the CC regretted the loss caused by the animals and called on all the leaders to unite and come up with a lasting solution to the menace.
“I have visited two of the farms that were invaded by the jumbos and I am concerned by the destruction caused. We will try all means possible to ensure the animals are driven out of this area to avert more destruction,” said Ndunga.
He noted that since 2015 there has been no recruitment of KWS officers despite many of them retiring and others dying and as a result, the available officers are not commensurate to the task to be executed.
“We have however escalated the matter to our seniors and something will soon be done to cover the deficit,” said the CC.
For a lasting solution to be realised, Ndunga added, all the leaders from the county and national government need to map the area to see whether there has been any encroachment of the elephant corridors which might be the major cause of the entire problem.
“Elephants have their migration routes which they follow for ages. We need to look at the map to find out whether there are people, who through dubious means, were allocated land within the corridor and are now preventing the elephants to migrate smoothly and as a result causing destruction in the area,” he said.
Dr Mutunga however differed with the CC, arguing that elephants have been migrating in the past without causing destruction and called on the concerned officers to keenly look into the issues causing the current situation.
“For the sixth year now as the MP of this area, elephants have been migrating but no such destruction has been caused. We need to find out the root cause of this and get a lasting solution,” said Dr Mutunga.
Muchui on the other hand blamed some KWS officers for sleeping on their job arguing that some of them were not keen to ensure the elephants were driven away from the farms.
“The other day, a KWS officer told us that we will have to learn to live with the elephants,” said Muchui.
KWS Senior Warden Zainab Salim, however, regretted the reactions by their officers saying that she will in the future ensure that they were relating well with the community.
“I take this opportunity to apologise on behalf of my officers and assure you that we will do whatever it takes to ensure the elephants are driven away from your farms,” said Ms Salim.
She added that the process of seeking compensation for the victims of the destruction was ongoing and urged all those affected to ensure they picked compensation forms from KWS offices in order to be considered.
By Dickson Mwiti