A pride of marauding lions has invaded Maktau location in Mwatate Sub County and has so far killed more than 100 livestock.
According to the farmers and leaders, the lions numbering about 10 broke out of the expansive Tsavo West National Park and invaded people’s settlement areas and had been killing cows, goats, sheep and donkeys with impunity in the past two weeks.
The residents and leaders accused the Kenya Wildlife Service of doing little to address the persistent human wildlife conflict in the area.
“Local farmers have no one to turn too. The wildlife conservation body has completely failed to respond to our constant pleas to drive back the lions to the Tsavo West National Park,” claimed Maktau Ward Representative Patel Mng’ambwa.
“We have been calling KWS personnel to come to the farmers rescue but in vain. Angered by the frequent wildlife invasion and losing their economic livelihood, farmers have now threatened to resort using traditional ways to protect their lives and property,” said the Wiper Party legislator yesterday.
Mr Mng’ambwa claimed the area had been overrun by stray lions that had not only left a trail of destruction and compounded food insecurity in the area that entirely depends on livestock rearing but also disrupted learning in the area.
He noted that even the recent completion of the Maktau-Kishushe-Ndii and Maktau-Bura electric fences seems not to be helpful to the local residents who are now living in endless fear of being attacked by the stray big cats
“The KWS personnel have become arrogant and they are not responsive to the needs and aspirations of the local community. Our constant pleas to have the lions driven out of settlement areas have landed on deaf ears. They (KWS) officials have been promising us to take quick action but in vain,” noted the opposition legislator.
“We depend on livestock rearing as our main economic livelihood. The frequent invasion of lions and killing of livestock has not only rendered us poor and devastated but also badly affected food security,” he added.
A farmer who identified himself as James Ngati said he had so far lost eight goats all amounting to more than Sh 40,000.
Another farmer John Nganga lost two goats, two donkeys and one cow. “I depend on livestock to feed and educate my children. The lions have rendered me poor and I do not know where I will get school fees from,” the devastated Ngati told The Standard on the phone yesterday.
“Wildlife invasion in people’s settlements is partly to blame for ravaging poverty and famine in the region,” added the distressed Nganga.
KWS Spokesman Paul Gatitu said he was not aware of the lion’s invasion. He however promised to look into the issue.
“Give me two minutes and I will call you back to tell you what is being done on that side,” Mr Gatitu told The Standard. The KWS spokesman did not however call back as earlier promised.
The invasion comes at a time when there were many pending compensation claims waiting for the compensation committee to deal with. .
“I cannot give you the exact number of the pending compensation claims but they are many in the office. We have been recording the conflict cases as they come,” said the chairman of the County Wildlife Compensation Committee John Mlamba.
The Wildlife Management Act is used for financing compensation claims for human death or injury or crop and property damage caused by wildlife
The Act has raised compensation for people killed by wildlife to Sh 5 million and has also provisions for compensation for crops destroyed and livestock killed by wild animals.
Initially there was no provision for crops destroyed and livestock killed by wildlife in the past.
Mr Mlamba at the same time said communities bordering parks suffer more as a result of human wildlife conflict where wildlife invades their farms to kill and injure people, livestock and destroying crops.
Mng’ambwa further pointed out that residents had been experiencing numerous attacks from elephants, lions, buffalos, leopards, cheaters baboons, snakes and hippos.
Tsavo is home to the big five wild animals like Elephants, buffalos, lions, leopards and cheaters and is also rich in flora and fauna.