The Star (Nairobi)

26 April 2011

Kenya: Wildlife Service Drives Jumbos Back to Park

RESIDENTS of Mwakitau location have been asked to remain indoors as Kenya Wildlife Service rangers drive stray elephants back to the Tsavo West National park.

The residents have been living in fear after more than 500 elephants invaded the area last week. The jumbos are reported to have attacked people and destroyed more than 100 acres of crops. Mwakitau chief Chrispus Mnyika said a man was attacked by an elephant while walking to his farm last week.

The chief said cases of wildlife attacks are rampant in the area and the injured man is still undergoing treatment at the Moi Hospital in Voi. The affected villages include Marungu,Mwanda,Msorongo,Mwakitau and Chakaleri, all in Mwatate district."Our hopes of getting good yields this season are doomed since most of our crops have been destroyed by the marauding elephants," said the chief.

Tsavo West senior warden Samuel Rukaria said the jumbos are from the adjacent Lumo Community Sanctuary and the Tsavo West National park. He said they broke out of the park to search for water and food.

The warden called on the residents to remain indoors today as Problem Animal Control Unit rangers drive back the animals to the park. Rukaria said more than 50 rangers have been deployed in the area and four vehicles and a helicopter will be used in the operation."We call on the local residents to remain in their homes during the morning hours as we drive back the elephants to the park," said Rukaria.

Rukaria said his officers will be on the ground to monitor the movement of the jumbos and called on the residents to remain calm as the campaign continues.

He said the stalled fence project by KWS which locals were up in arms with at the Kishushe Mwakitau area which borders the National park was the cause of the human wildlife conflict in the area and called on the local residents to embrace the project in order to end the persistent human wildlife conflict in the area.

The news comes at a time when an aerial census conducted early this month revealed that the elephant population in the Tsavo ecosystem had increased by 4 per cent thus the local believe that the chances of human wildlife conflict will also rise in the area.

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