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Sh3Million plan to capture monkeys angers locals

By Boniface Gikandi | Published Fri, February 23rd 2018 at 00:00, Updated February 22nd 2018 at 19:46 GMT +3
One of the monkeys at Mabanda market in Gatanga after it was captured by the farmers using a trap provided by Murang’a County Government ahead of planting seasons. [Photo by Boniface Gikandi/Standard]

Residents are unhappy that the county government set aside Sh3 million to capture monkeys that have been destroying crops.

There have been claims that the animals have also been attacking people.

While some, mainly farmers, welcome the idea, others say there are more pressing financial needs.

At least 10,000 monkeys are targeted in Gatunyu in Gatanga, in the programme dubbed 'Tafuta Tumbili’. It is scheduled to run until March 24.

The county government launched the initiative after farmers complained of monkeys destroying their crops. Some 125 monkeys have been captured using traps since Saturday.

Some farmers said with the monkeys out of the way, they could expect a good harvest.

However, other residents took to social media to express their disappointment. Peter Kamau described it as a plan by some officials to siphon public funds.

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"I would have expected the county government to use the money to complete projects such Maragua Milk Processing Plant that has stalled and leave the task of dealing with the animals to Kenya Wildlife Service who are experts," said Mr Kamau.

Lack of funds

Charles Kamau wondered why the money was committed to the cause when a project to produce French beans in Makuyu had failed due to lack of funds.

"The county has lost direction. It is getting its priorities wrong."

George Gathuru from Gatanga agreed there was a problem but added that government intervention had come late in the day.

"We should engage people who are experts in handling wild animals, not villagers. Furthermore, animals will be taken back to the forest but they will still come back in search of food," he said.

Damarius Wanjiru from Maragua said: "There was no public participation before the decision was taken. We would not have allowed the county to use our taxes in that manner."

Samson Njuguna, from Gatunyi village, said he lost avocados worth Sh10,000 after the monkeys invaded his farm two weeks ago.

"My employee had to flee as the animals trooped in. They also destroyed my Napier grass," said Mr Njuguna.

"Farmers are living at the mercy of monkeys, which has affected food production. The monkeys have also been attacking people, especially women."

Charles Njuguna said the plan would save farmers from losses they suffered when their crops were eaten.

County Agriculture Executive Albert Mwaniki said the plan would boost food production.

"The animals have also been a threat to residents as they enter houses in search of food. They are pests because they are a threat to food security," he said.

Moses Kang'ethe, who is helping to co-ordinate the project, said they had received more than 250 calls from residents inviting them to capture the monkeys.

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