Residents living along Athi River and those bordering Tsavo West and Chyulu National Parks in Makueni county have been warned against encroaching on the animal sanctuaries to avert human wildlife conflicts in the area.
The Warden in charge of the county, Ms Constance Mwasho attributed the rampant cases of human wildlife conflicts in the areas of Kibwezi and Makindu to human activities that have destroyed the natural habitats of wildlife.
‘‘Charcoal burning, logging and wood carving force the animals to move out of the parks looking for pasture and water,” she said.
The warden speaking to KNA on Wednesday in her office at Wote said the attacks mostly by jumbos are very prevalent during the dry season and lead to massive destruction of crops and in some cases death.
Ms.Mwasho also noted that cultivation along the riparian land in River Athi has led to increased attacks by crocodiles and hippos.
‘‘Irrigation along the river makes the water low water levels to go down, besides crops planted at the riparian land are destroyed by hippos in search of pasture,’’she added.
Mwasho appealed to residents to desist from such activities but she disclosed that Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) was in the process of erecting an electric fence to prevent animals from escaping from the national parks and reduce the attacks.
Ms.Mwasho also said that KWS translocates problematic animals and sensitises the public on how to co-exist with wildlife and measures to take in case of an invasion.
She however, noted that lack of funds and enough staff were major challenges facing the fight against human wildlife conflicts.
‘‘The wardens are very few and man a very vast area making it difficult patrol and manage it,’’added the warden.
By Roselyne Kavoo/Immaculate Ndinda