Murang’a County declares war on marauding monkeys

Vervet monkeys
MURANGA, KENYA: Murang’a County government is being ridiculed online for allocating resources to capture marauding monkeys in Gatunyu Village in Gatanga.

The county has declared an all-out war against the mischievous animals and has started a programme dubbed 'Tafuta Tumbili’ to rein in the monkeys.

But while the farmers are optimistic that they will now be able to harvest their produce when the monkeys are finally caught, some residents on social media are laughing at the spectacle.

In social media platform, Peter Kamau described the action by county government as regrettable saying it was an avenue to misuse funds as it had not been deliberated by county assembly.

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"The county government despite agriculture being a devolved function out to concentrate in the completion of Maragua milk processing plant and leave the task of dealing with wild animals to KWS who are experts," said Kamau.

Over 10,000 monkeys are targeted in the programme that will run until March 24 in the county's response to a petition by farmers over the destruction of their food crop and nappier grass.

The operation started on Saturday in Gatanga where some 125 monkeys were captured using special traps and others killed.

The county government has given out a mobile phone number to the public for easy coordination to help track the monkeys in the eight sub-counties.

Samson Njuguna, a resident in Gatunyu village, said he lost his avocado fruits after a troop of the monkeys invaded his farm two weeks ago.

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He estimated the loss at Sh10,000 saying his employee fled when a troop invaded and destroyed his crops including nappier grass.

“Over the years, farmers have been living at the mercy of the wild animals despite efforts made to increase food production.  The residents have been forced to stay alert and scare the animals which have turned a threat to females,” said Njuguna.

The residents in the past 10 years sought assistance to have Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to reopen its office in the region after they were ordered closed.

Operation 'Tafuta Tumbili’ is coordinated by the County Executive Member of Agriculture Albert Mwaniki who said there have been increased complaints from the locals after the marauding animals invaded their farms destroying their food crops.

Mr Mwaniki said the animals have been a threat to the residents with reports that some gets into their houses through roofs in search of food following the prolonged dry spell.

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“We are dealing with them as pests as they are a threat to food security with farmers identifying the animals as their major concern,” said Mwaniki.

Moses Kang'ethe who is also coordinating the project said they had received over 250 calls from the public inviting the monkey riding crew to their areas.

"We have a team armed with traps and other equipment to deal with the menace," said Kang'ethe.

Last year, Governor Mwangi wa Iria during the distribution of subsidised seeds was told on the face by residents that monkeys their problem was how to deal with the monkeys.

KWS has acknowledged the presence of vervet monkeys in Murang’a and has attributed their increased population to the afforestation campaign that has been ongoing in the county.

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Though KWS discourages the killing of monkeys and has asked residents to scare the primates using catapults and dogs.

Murang’a CountyKWSvarvet monkeys