As the national government through the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) puts the best foot forward in ending the perennial human-wildlife conflicts in Taita Taveta and other counties bordering national parks, a new challenge is emerging as announced by KWS Director General. Dr. Erastus Kanga.
“As we are here today launching this compensation program for victims of human-wildlife conflicts, I decry the threat of fence vandalism that is hampering our efforts to bring an end to this menace,” said Kanga
The DG revealed shocking statistics on fence vandalism in both Tsavo East and Tsavo West national parks, which continue to threaten efforts to end incidences of loss of lives, property destruction, and physical injuries.
“Today, out of the 500km fence we have installed along the peripheries of the Tsavo ecosystems, 120km have been vandalized, sustaining the human-wildlife conflicts,” said Kanga.
He was speaking at Voi during the launch of the national human-wildlife compensation payments this week Wednesday, amounting to a total of Sh 908, 000,000 to go to victims of human-wildlife conflicts for the years 2014 to 2019.
“When you look at the magnitude of this compensation amounts, you can see it’s a burden to the ailing economy. We have to be proactive in finding solutions to end the conflicts and the far-reaching consequences and fencing off the parks is one of them,” said Kanga.
Presenting a cheque of Sh 51,551, 489 to go to compensation to victims from Taita Taveta, Peninah Malonza, Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Wildlife, and Heritage said there was an immediate need to reduce instances of human-wildlife conflicts to ease the financial burden to the state and end the anguish of those who lose their loved ones and property.
“The compensation amounts are astronomical and we must find a way to reduce instances of human-wildlife conflicts to ease the financial burden to the government and the psychological trauma and physical injuries to humans and property destruction,” said Malonza.
The CS reiterated the call to end fence vandalism as the national government, in collaboration with partners, continues to roll out more mitigation programs to bring an end to the problem that has persisted for decades now.
Nationally, according to Malonza, the victim compensation claims amount stands at more than Sh5 billion as at mid-2023 with the numbers expected to rise at the onset of the dry season.
By Arnold Linga Masila