Parliament urged to consider mandatory insurance for farms near game reserves

Amboseli National Park, Kenya

Parliament has been asked to consider passing laws to direct farm owners living near national game reserves and parks to take up mandatory insurance policies for protection against damages by animals.

This follows an 18-year legal battle between an agricultural firm and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) after the company lost crops worth Sh64 million at their Narok farm following an invasion by migrating wildlife.

In their judgment, the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by KWS against an order to pay Sh31.5 million to Rift Valley Agricultural Contractors Limited.

The court said farmers living in regions where animals encroached on their land would benefit from insurance cover.

“By so doing, they avoid hefty losses being suffered due to destruction of the crop by wildlife. Indeed, an owner of land that has close proximity to a national park is expected to insure his crop, failing which a court of law would have to apportion to him a degree of negligence.

“In view of this, it is our recommendation that the Legislature ought to consider whether affected parties ought to take up mandatory insurance policies,” the court ruled.

The court said although the compensation for damages occasioned by wildlife had been devolved to the counties, rules made by the CS had not been enacted. “There is, therefore, an urgent need for Parliament to pass into law the said regulations to make the compensation process provided for in the Act functional.”