, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 21 – Members of the National Assembly have proposed that the compensation for families of people killed by wild animals be increased to Sh5 million shillings from the Sh1 million proposed in the Wildlife Conversation Bill.
During their contributions to debate on the Bill, Taveta MP Naomi Shaban, Bura MP Ali Wario and John Mbadi of Suba said that the proposed figure was inadequate for the bereaved families needed to be taken care of especially after they have lost their bread winners.
The said families near national parks live in constant fear of being killed by wild animals or losing their loved ones.
Shaban said the law would help small holder farmers living around national parks and forest reserves to pick up their lives after wildlife attacks.
Mbadi argued that the Sh5 million would also force the government and the Kenya Wildlife Services to take measures and ensure that the wild animals such as hippos, elephants and cheetahs do not stray out of the national parks and destroy livestock and farms.
He added that when people try to chase off rampaging elephants and hippopotamuses they get angry, kill people and their domestic animals; destroy properties and crops in the ensuing fight.
The House Committee on Energy and Natural Resources recommends that compensation for death be pegged at Sh3 million. Currently, families residing near wildlife areas claim that they are paid less than Sh200,000 for human loss and less than Sh50,000 for injuries. They are not paid for livestock killed by wild animals, they say.
Wario on his part claimed the Bill in its current form will exacerbate human wildlife conflict because the locals have been excluded in wildlife conversation.
“This law has the fingerprints of the colonialists all over it. There are animals which are classified under Class A (endangered wildlife species if you kill it), you will pay penalties of up to Sh20 million and life imprisonment. Yet if the very same animal kills you, your family only gets Sh1 million,” he added. “So who deserves the Sh20 million?”
He said the pastoralist community feels marginalised because they live in the parks but this lifestyle is being changed because of regulations that bar them from living in the national parks.
The move is aimed at significantly reducing human-wildlife conflict and improving revenue from the country’s sanctuaries.
The lawmakers want a Wildlife Compensation Scheme set up as opposed to having the Kenya Wildlife Service handle compensation cases.
The Compensation Scheme would be managed by the Ministry of Environment with the help of the County Conservation and Compensation Committees.
Kipipiri MP Samuel Gichigi urged the MPs to enact the law which will protect Kenya’s heritage from the threat of extinction as a result of poaching.
The Bill was tabled in Parliament on September 18, 2013 proposes Wildlife Regulatory Council will be created alongside county wildlife conservation and compensation committees.
A Wildlife Endowment Fund and a Wildlife Compensation Fund would also be established from where the compensation, based on market value, would be drawn.
No compensation will be paid in cases where damages occurred during illegal activities such as poaching.
Fake claims will be deterred through a fine of at least Sh100,000 or six months in jail.
The Bill provides for appeals within 30 days to the National Environment Tribunal or to the Environment and Land court.