Why locals put KWS on the spot for moving giraffes

KWS officers move a giraffe from North Lake Naivasha. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

The translocation of a tower of giraffes from several game ranches in North Lake Naivasha has left landowners and ranchers seething in anger.

In the last couple of days, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has embarked on translocating the animals to the Coast, leading to a fall-out between them and the ranchers.

The land owners who, for years, have fed and protected the animals have accused KWS of bypassing them and failing to involve them in the ongoing exercise.

This comes amid concern over the number of wild animals invading private farms in Naivasha with North Lake, Mai Mahiu. Longonot and Hellsgate areas are the most affected.

According to one of the land owners, Tim Nagel, the exercise caught them by surprise adding that, in the past, KWS had involved them in such exercises.

He noted that for years, ranchers and conservationists had worked hand in hand with KWS in protecting wildlife in the area, wondering why the exclusion in the ongoing exercise.

“KWS officers arrived in this area and started trans-locating giraffes to unknown places and we are wondering why the secrecy and failure to involve the local community,” he said.

KWS Assistant Director Joseph Dadacha downplayed the fallout adding that there was a breakdown in communication.

He added that KWS had since contacted the land owners who had given their go-ahead in the exercise with the first batch of three giraffes taken to the Coast.

“There was a communication breakdown during the start of the exercise but this has since been addressed and the translocation exercise is going on smoothly,” he said.

This came as conservationists and motorists expressed concern over an increase in wild animals along the Nairobi-Nakuru highway. They noted that the fencing of several farms along the highway and game corridors had pushed the animals to the road, raising fears of accidents.

According to the chairman, of Friends of Lake Naivasha Francis Muthui, the number of wild animals around the highway increased.

He attributed this to the closure of wildlife corridors, fencing of ranches in the area, and capital projects that had displaced the animals into the road in search of water and pastures.

“In the last couple of months we have seen an increase in the number of wild animals along the highway and this has resulted in serious accidents,” he said.