, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 9 – Kajiado East Constituency residents on Wednesday appealed to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to drive elephants from the area or offer them protection after the death of a boy who is said to have been trampled on by the animals on Sunday.
An elephant is said to have killed the three year-old boy who was in the company of his mother and his elder brother while walking from a church in Ilkelunyeti village in Kiboko location.
“As they were heading home, they encountered some elephants which charged at them. Unfortunately, the mother left the younger child, and the child was knocked down. He was taken to Masimba Dispensary where he was given first aid and was later transferred to Makindu Hospital where he succumbed,” Julius Cheptei, Southern Conservation KWS Assistant Director told Capital FM News.
The child was laid to rest on Tuesday but soon after the burial, members of the village embarked on a revenge mission.
“After the burial, the community was angry and they retaliated.”
They attacked elephants with spears leaving one of them dead.
Earlier, several members of the community claimed that two elephants had been killed following the conflict that followed the death of the boy.
“The conflict went out of hand and elephants were speared. Yesterday (Tuesday) one died on the spot and this morning another one was found dead of spear wounds,” Ibrah Kantent, the Executive Director Eseriani Wildlife Association stated.
But according to Cheptei, only one elephant was killed following the conflict. “As far as I am concerned it’s only one elephant was killed, there is no second and third elephant that was killed,” he stated.
The residents accused KWS of not responding when they are attacked by the animals.
They complained that the animals apart from killing people and destroying their livelihoods were also terrorising them to an extent of affecting their children’s learning and their daily activities.
They said that herds of elephants were frequently invading them and causing a trail of destruction yet KWS has been slow to intervene.
“It’s until KWS with its shenanigans change the way they perceive our society and our co-existence with the said animals things will not be business as usual. Many times our people are killed or injured by these animals and KWS takes a month to respond!” One of the villagers said.
According to Executive Director for Elephant Neighbours Centre, Jim Nyamu, conflict between wildlife and people living in Kajiado was real and required immediate solutions.
Though he regretted the death of the boy, he felt killing the animals on the other hand was not resolving the obvious conflict between wildlife and the residents.
“My condolences to the family for losing their boy, it’s very unfortunate that we continue losing elephants in this circumstances that are not sustainable. We have continued witnessing this kind of conflict. We cannot respond to this by killing the elephants as this will not solve the problem. The long term solution is to identify mechanisms on how to mitigate the seasonal recurrence of this case, identifying space for conservation and reduce human-interface,” Nyamu advised.
Following the conflict, Cheptei explained that KWS had already started driving away the elephants which are usually about 35 in the area.
“We managed to drive away 20 elephants today. This area has a range of between five to 35 elephants. We will drive the remaining elephants away to ensure the area is without those animals again,” he explained.
The case of human-wildlife conflict is not unique to Ilkelunyeti.
Some 80 Kilometres to the South of Nairobi is Olemurkat Sub-Location also in Kajiado County.
Over the years, conflict between the animals and the residents has been the order of the day.
The conflict with humans only complicates the country’s nightmare of saving the highly treasured animals from poachers.
Whereas, there are local and international efforts to save the elephants, Kenya is at the same time grappling with addressing human-wildlife conflict which poses a serious threat to the lives of people living near park areas and also the animals living in those areas.
The death of the two elephants in Kajiado came few days after three elephants were electrocuted in Meru and one in Voi last week.