, NYERI, Kenya, Feb 21 –Twenty-one elephants beginning Wednesday arte to be translocated from Solio Ranch in Laikipia County to Northern Tsavo in Taita Taveta County.
Speaking in Solio at the start of the exercise, Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said the move estimated to cost Sh4.5 million is intended to end human-wildlife conflict in the area with farmers suffering huge losses from the destruction of their crops.
Balala also noted that the population of the elephants has increased with records showing that there are more than 32,000 in the entire country which he attributed to a decrease in poaching.
He also said that they have proposed Sh612 million in compensation for affected farmers and persons attacked by the jumbos, in the 2018/2019 budget noting that the process is not an easy one and it’s a big challenge to the government.
“The biggest challenge the government is having is compensation, it is not easy but we are working with Treasury to ensure there is a budget to compensate death as a result of human wildlife conflict,” he stated.
On his part, Kieni MP Kanini Kega noted that there has been no casualty reported in the area as a result of trampling by the mammals but many farmers have been left with bare land due to the destruction of their crops.
He stated that the best long term solution to jumbos invading farms is fencing of the Mt Kenya and Aberdares parks.
Area resident welcomed the move by the government to relocate the mammals testifying to the destruction of their crops.
Michael Kariuki, a Lamuria resident said that the jumbos have threatened their ability to feed themselves and forcing them to rely on relief food yet they can feed themselves.
He told reporters covering the launch that his acre of maize was trampled on by the jumbos setting him back Sh500,000.
“My one acre maize plantation was destroyed by the elephants last week. This is a good move by the government to translocate the animals that have given us sleepless nights,” Kariuki stated.
The residents also urged KWS to ensure that all the said animals are translocated in the two week time frame set accusing the KWS of conducting “cosmetic and colour” exercises in the past. “The wardens have previously abandoned the translocation effort once their seniors leave the area.”
KWS Spokesman Paul Gathitu said the notorious elephants, especially males, are the ones being translocated after the area residents helped KWS officers in identifying the rogue jumbos.
The KWS wardens were airborne in the early morning to catch the animals while it was cool and the elephants were returning to their sanctuary from their night activities.