State releases over Sh200m to victims of wildlife attacks

Eight elephants charge at residents of Burguret, in Kieni West [Mose Sammy, Standard]

The National Treasury has released more than Sh200 million to compensate victims of wildlife-related attacks in Taita-Taveta County.

County Commissioner Loyford Kibaara said that those to benefit include relatives of 16 victims killed by wild animals, the injured and farmers, whose crops were destroyed by marauding wild animals between 2014 to 2021.

Mr Kibaara revealed that relatives of victims, who were killed by the animals will be paid Sh5 million each, while those injured will be paid between Sh50,000 to Sh1 million depending on the gravity of the injury and recommendations of a medical doctor.

According to the approved compensation claims, farmers, whose crops were destroyed will be paid between Sh4,000 to Sh2 million as per the report of agricultural experts, who assessed the damage caused and in accordance with the Wildlife Management and Compensation Act 2013.  Kibaara said the wild animals responsible for the attack include elephants, lions, buffalos, leopards, cheaters, hyenas, snakes and hippos.

Speaking at the Taita-Taveta County Governor’s offices in Mwatate town, accompanied by Governor Andrew Mwadime and Tsavo Conservation Area senior Assistant Director Kennedy Ochieng, Kibaara, noted a total of 16 people were killed, 67 injured and 228 farms destroyed in the region.

He said 50 people whose houses were destroyed by elephants will be paid Sh530,000 each.

At the same time, Kibaara said between 2021 to 2022, a total of 12 people have been killed, 838 farms were destroyed and 9 were injured by wild animals from the vast Tsavo National park, which occupies about 62 per cent of the total land area.

The administrator said the county wildlife compensation committee had already forwarded claims of more than Sh139 million to the national government for compensation.

Mr Kibaara blamed the persistent human-wildlife conflict on illegal herding in the park and climate change that had depleted pasture, water and environment in the Tsavo ecosystem that harbours the Big Five.

Governor Mwadime said he had received numerous complaints from the residents about wildlife invasions in settlement areas that have disrupted learning and threatened human lives.

 Mwadime said the local community that hosts the wild animals had been demanding to be allowed to graze and cultivate in the Park because little was being ploughed back for rural development. “A total of 62 per cent of the total land area in the region is occupied by Tsavo, but the proceeds from the ecosystem do not benefit the local community in areas of wealth creation for poverty and unemployment alleviation. The local community is also angered by the long delays in compensation for people killed and crops destroyed by wild animals.”

As an intervention measure, Captain Ochieng said KWS’s rapid response team had been deployed, with reinforcement from the air support, to effectively deal with the wildlife menace. “As a short-term measure, we have deployed a rapid response team on the ground with a backup of a mobile and reinforcement with air support teams to minimize persistent wildlife conflicts in hot spots areas,” Captain Ochieng said.

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