Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) on Tuesday deployed aerial and ground teams to drive back a dozen rogue elephants that had strayed to settlement areas in Mwatate sub-county in Taita-Taveta leading to disruption of learning in two public schools.
They found a family of stray elephants had strolled through Mwasere Girls High School triggering panic in the institution. Later, the family of jumbos dashed across the open field of a nearby Kighombo Primary School where they disrupted and scampered several pupils enjoying their Physical Education lessons
KWS officials were promptly called to push back the jumbos to Mbulia Ranch.
Speaking to KNA this morning, Assistant Director for Tsavo Conservation Area Mr. George Osuri said KWS had responded and several ground teams backed by aerial support were driving back the jumbos to Mbulia ranch.
He said that the elephants numbering between ten and fourteen utilized the heavily forested zone as a migration corridor when crossing from Tsavo East National Park to the adjacent Mgeno and Mbulia ranches.
“The ground teams with aerial support are pushing the elephants into the ranches where they were headed. We urge the residents to give the rangers room to do their work and drive the elephants away,” he said.
Senior Warden for Community Service Ms. Zainab Salim, who is coordinating the exercise, said KWS officers had spent Tuesday night tracking the elephants and driving them along safe routes to avoid areas inhabited by people.
She noted that the rangers had to walk the elephants for several kilometres because the fence for Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) made it impossible for them to utilize the underpasses.
“We have managed to drive them to Mbulia ranch from where they can further connect to Tsavo National Park. It was impossible to use the underpasses because of the fence running along the SGR tracks,” she said.
She further said a similar incidence of elephants passing near the schools was reported in 2015. She appealed for calm from residents and asked them not to get alarmed by the sight of heavily armed rangers and an elephant spotting plane that was making frantic rounds in the region.
“We are working on several mitigation measures to minimize encounters between humans and wildlife including erection of electric fences in hotspot areas,” she said.
Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) executive secretary Taita Taveta county Mr. Shadrack Mutungi, said that the frequent visits by the jumbos needed a permanent solution to avoid panic and disruption of learning in schools.
By Michael Oduor