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KWS rangers shoot killer Jumbo dead after two days of protests

By Peterson Githaiga | Published Thu, February 5th 2015 at 00:00, Updated February 4th 2015 at 22:48 GMT +3

Kenya: Hundreds of agitated Kajiado locals from the Maasai Community yesterday blocked the Emali-Loitoktok road protesting the killing of a local by a stray elephant.

Area leaders accused the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) of failure to address their concerns over recent increased human wildlife conflict that has led to loss of life.

Locals claim they had raised the alarm over stray animals in villages but KWS did not respond. Two weeks ago, human wildlife conflict led to the closure of several schools near the Kyulu Hills wildlife conservation.

Kunju primary school has been closed for fear of further attacks by stray animals. On Sunday night, a 43-year-old Saitoti ole Santamu was attacked and killed by elephants in his Imbuko home in Poka ward, Kenyawa division, Mashuuru district.

A witness said four elephants entered Saitoti's homestead to quench their thirst at a water pan when the incident happened. This sparked protests and locals blocked the road using stones and logs on Monday and Tuesday. They demanded the killing of the elephant. KWS rangers later shot the elephant dead.

Led by Governor David Nkedianye, Senator Peter Mositet and other county leaders, locals told KWS to address their concerns failure to which they will vent their anger on wild animals.

"The Kenya wildlife management are sleeping on the job and throwing wild animals control to the dogs. We will not allow our people to be victimised and killed by wild animals that we have mutually co-existed with for decades," said Nkedianye.

Mositet said KWS should be ready to dialogue to provide a solution, compensate locals for damages caused by animals and allow locals to herd in parks and animal reserves during dry spells.

Arresting herders

"The KWS management has been arresting herders grazing around parks and in animal reserves," he said.

Kajiado East MP Peris Tobiko said efforts by the community leaders to end human wildlife conflict have been frustrated by KWS. KWS Assistant Director Julius Cheptei admitted that there have been complaints, adding that lazy KWS rangers will soon be transferred.

"I apologise on behalf of the KWS fraternity for the frustration it has caused locals, by not responding to your calls about dangerous animals in villages even as the drought bites," Cheptei said.

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