By Wanjohi Gakio
ILLEGAL grazers are worsening poaching and human-wildlife conflict, Laikipia Nature Conservancy Director Kuki Gallman has said. She said the grazers from Samburu, Baringo and Isiolo counties are interfering with wildlife habitats making elephants and other animals stray into farms.
Kuki said the conservancy has been dealing with the problem by educating communities on the importance of conserving the environment. "We have been teaching people that unless they protect the environment, these problems will remain unresolved. There should be peace between people and nature, and people and other people," she said.
Kuki was speaking on Saturday at the conservancy during the Laikipia Highland Games, which coincided with the first anniversary of the Westgate terrorist attack.
"We want to remember those who lost their lives at Westgate in a peaceful way. People from different communities are competing peacefully in spite of fire disasters and poaching that have rocked this conservancy. We are peaceful and want to show that people can compete without fighting," she said.
Kuki said the conservancy has recently experienced the worst incidents of poaching. She said hundreds of elephants have been killed since 2009.
"The worst year was 2009 when we lost 64 elephants. If the trend continues elephants will become extinct in our life time. This is unacceptable and we are doing everything we can to protect them," she said.
The event was attended by US Ambassador Robert Godec, former Attorney General Charles Njonjo, former athlete Kipchoge Keino and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi.
Godec said sports build bridges between people. He said they should be used to help Kenya build peace and avoid a repeat of the ethnic hatred that led to the 2007-08 post-election violence.
"This is an opportune moment for the people of Kenya to be together. We had similar challenges 240 years ago in the US when there was terrible violence, but we came out of those problems through dialogue and building institutions to deliver justice and help people prosper," he said.
Moi said criminals from Baringo have been disturbing the peace in Laikipia. "These are criminals and must be treated as such no matter which county they come from. We are doing our part and in the near future will announce measures we are taking to curb this problem," he said.