How drought has exposed wild animals to accidents

A group of hippos feed on the shores of Lake Naivasha where water levels have risen sharply reducing pastures for wildlife. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

Motorists in Naivasha have been put on high alert following an increase in the number of wild animals seeking pasture along major roads.

Drought has pushed the wild animals into the roads and estates, leading to a rise in human-wildlife conflicts. The most affected are motorists using the Nairobi-Nakuru highway, Moi South Lake, North Lake and Naivasha-Kirima roads.

In the last three months, some motorists have been involved in serious accidents on the roads after hitting wild animals.

According to Mr David Kilo, an honorary game warden, recent flooding of pastures around Lake Naivasha pushed wild animals to residential estates and roads.

Most affected

He identified Kihoto and Manera estates as the most affected with hippos, buffaloes and zebras roaming freely around the informal settlements at night. “The wild animals are passing through the flooded estates to the nearby Naivasha-Mai Mahiu and Moi South Lake roads in search of pasture,” he said. 

Mr Kilo warned of more attacks and accidents, as the animals continued to venture out of the flooded riparian land. “There is scramble for pasture around the lake and this has made the animals, mainly buffaloes and hippos, violent,” he said.

Mr Francis Muthui, the chairperson of Friends of Lake Naivasha, said the fencing of ranches along the Nairobi-Nakuru highway contributed to the crisis. 

“The harsh weather has pushed wild animals from the parks and ranches to roadsides, posing a major threat to motorists,” he said.

He said it was common for visitors to spot zebras, warthogs, baboons and buffaloes on the highway.

“There is an urgent need for KWS to work with nearby ranches and game sanctuaries to see how this menace will be addressed before we lose lives,” said Mr Muthui. 

Members of the public view the carcass of a buffalo that was hit by a trailer along the Nairobi-Nakuru highway near Gilgil. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

He said most of the wildlife in Naivasha were outside Hellsgate and Longonot National Parks, leading to the  crisis. “We have private ranches in Naivasha and Gilgil, but they cannot handle the high number of animals, and this has been worsened by closure of various wildlife corridors,” he said.

A senior KWS officer who declined to be named admitted that the problem was beyond their control as all the game parks in Naivasha were not fenced. “The biggest challenge we are currently facing is drought, which has pushed the wild animals into farms. We hope this will change when we get the rains,” said the officer.

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Wild Animals