The perennial problem of human-wildlife conflict in Taita-Taveta County is set to diminish after Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) began distributing air-horns and high-powered flashlights to communities neighboring Tsavo National Park to combat the jumbo menace.
The Tsavo Conservation Area Assistant Director, Robert Njue said the air-horns and flashlights have been given to farmers living near the park boundaries and close to the ranches to deter elephants from invading their farms.
Speaking to KNA on Sunday, Njue said the sharp blast of the air-horn scares away elephants and added that the flashlights distributed use the powerful LED light whose beams irritate the elephants and drive them away.
He noted that these measures will be supplemented by random patrols by KWS rangers who would respond promptly to distress calls from farmers and help in driving the jumbos back to the park.
“Most of the farms are located in isolation in areas elephants use as corridors. These devices will enable farmers to scare the elephants as our officers respond to their distress calls,” he said.
The use of air-horns and flashlights to repulse elephants from farms is gaining popularity in Kenya. In Northern Tanzania, Village Game Scouts (VGS) from most villages around Mkomazi National Park have successfully used Vuvuzelas and LED flashlights to secure their farms from jumbo invasions.
These villages are Kilimanjaro and Tanga areas which are considered as part of expansive Tsavo Conservation Area. They include Kitunga, Kitivo, Toya, Kalambe, Ndeya and Sim-Kizungo.
Njue expressed optimism that once the horns and flashlights are effectively utilized, the conflicts will rapidly decline.
He further said that KWS had also embarked on other permanent initiatives to eliminate human-wildlife conflicts in the region adding that the most concrete move towards this goal is the erecting of 400-km of electric fence to separate the protected areas from the farms.
The fence will cut through areas of Kamutongo and Alia in Mwatate and extend to Kasighau in Voi sub-county.
Njue however, said the organization is facing challenges of illegal herders who were short-circuiting the powered lines to gain access into the ranches, noting that once the lines are rendered inactive, elephants were likely to stray into farms.
“We are handling the issue of illegal herders who vandalize the fence to gain access to the ranches. They contribute to this conflict,” he said.
By Wagema Mwangi