Auctioneers eye KWS assets in Sh2 billion claims

A resident of Mitero in Kieni West checks the carcass of an elephant accidentally killed by KWS rangers as they tried to scare it out of a farm in August 2016. [File, Standard]
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) may have its assets auctioned to settle over Sh2 billion in awards given by courts as compensation to victims of attacks by wild animals across the country.

The cases include deaths, injuries and destruction to property, which stand at Sh2.2 billion, according to the latest report by Auditor General Edward Ouko.

The awards involve a total of 2,300 cases of injury and deaths.

And auctioneers have come calling, seeking to attach KWS assets to settle the awards, which is a relief to thousands of victims of human-wildlife conflict.

SEE ALSO: KWS to use choppers to plant trees

The agency recently admitted, in a statement, that the cases are increasing.

Most of the cases on wildlife-human conflicts, according to KWS, are being reported in Taita Taveta, Kajiado, Laikipia, Narok, Shimba Hills, Baringo, Mutomo, Nairobi, Makueni and Kiambu.

Last Friday, the weight of the debts came to the fore when a court allowed Rift Valley Agricultural Contractors to attach KWS property to a claim over Sh40 million awarded to them.

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Even though some of the cases have has been in court for up to 17 years, victims of human-wildlife conflict feel there is hope, at last.

Rift Valley Agricultural Contractors had its 1, 900 hectares of barley and wheat on a leased parcel in Narok County, near the Maasai Mara National Park, destroyed by wild animals.

SEE ALSO: Locals feast on stray hippo as police watch helplessly

The firm tried to engage KWS and have the matter negotiated out of court but the agency declined. It was forced to institute a suit in 2002. The company claimed antelopes, wildebeests and zebras invaded the plantation and destroyed all the crops.

In the case whose appeal went to the Supreme Court and was heard by five judges, it was decided that KWS compensates Rift Valley Agricultural Contractors.

KWS now faces the auctioneers hammer as the cases increase each year.

At least 18 vehicles estimated to be valued at Sh29.9 million were attached to the case and KWS given days to settle the debt failure to which they will be sold.

KWS, The Standard has established, declined to sign the proclamation documents after the award was made.

SEE ALSO: State pays Sh1.2b to wildlife attack victims

Lawyer Kipkoech Ng’etich said if they don’t get enough from the attached vehicles, they will move to other KWS offices and attach more property.

This is one of the many cases that might open doors for more victims to sue and seek attachment of KWS assets.

The Auditor General’s report shows several case presented for consideration for compensation and which are yet to be settled since 2013.

KWS records show elephants strayed the most caused most of the attacks.

The records from 2010 to 2015 indicate elephant deaths as a result of retaliatory attacks contributed to 88 per cent of all wildlife deaths.

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Pamela Tiren, from Baringo County, is one of the victims. Besides being a victim of snake bites, her daughter, is disabled reportedly as a result of a snakebite. Her mother is also said to have died from a snakebite while her brother was attacked and killed by a hippopotamus.

He family received Sh200,000 as compensation for her brother's death. However, they are yet to be compensated for the other incidents. They have been chasing compensation since 2007.

“M brother was mauled by a hippopotamus and my mother who was bitten by a snake. My daughter’s hand is on the verge of being amputated. All the incidences happened in a span of a month in 2007. May be we will finally be compensated after the court compelled KWS to compensate one of the victims," said Ms Tiren.

Baringo KWS senior warden Dickson Too said cases of crop destruction, snake bites and attacks by crocodiles and hippos are rampant in the region, but are never analysed to establish circumstances under which they happened.

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Kenya Wildlife ServiceEdward OukoRift Valley Agricultural ContractorsHuman and wildlife conflict