Landowners, KWS differ over wildlife relocation

Kenya Wildlife Services rangers loading a captured bull elephant in an open truck in a translocation exercise that took place at Chemeron Farm in Rongai, Nakuru County on 28/09/2017. [Harun Wathari ,Standard]

A row pitting landowners against Kenya Wildlife Services management in Naivasha threatens to derail ongoing translocation of tens of wildlife from the lakeside town to Laikipia County.

The landowners accuse the government agency of bypassing them in the process meant to decongest the area of high number of wild animals.

But KWS has defended the exercise targeting tens of zebras, impalas, waterbucks and gazelles, saying all players have been involved.

The outcry comes barely a month after the landowners opposed the transfer of over 30 giraffes to the Coast without their consent. They wondered why KWS officers were keen to relocate the animals from Naivasha yet there were tens of giraffes in nearby Tsavo National Park.

One of the landowners, Ronaldo Retief, said exercise was marred with controversy, confusion and misinformation. He said majority of wild animals in the area were in game ranches owned by the landowners who for years had fed and watered them.

“We are deeply perturbed by the ongoing translocation of a particular set of wild animals from Naivasha to Laikipia as KWS has kept us in the darkness,” said the conservationist.

He said landowners had written to KWS over the exercise but had not received any reply raising more questions as more animals were transferred. Retief said recent transfers of giraffes was shrouded in mystery with KWS officers using names of senior government officers to threaten those opposed to the exercise.

But speaking earlier, KWS assistant director Joseph Dadacha said the exercise followed a change of land use by several landowners in Naivasha. He noted that the number of animals that would be relocated would be known once the exercise was over in next few weeks.

He said some landowners had resorted to farming and other commercial activities forcing KWS to move in and transfer the animals. Dadacha noted that the number of wild animals in the lakeside town had risen sharply leading to an increase in cases of human-wildlife conflicts. [Antony Gitonga]