By Kirimi Murithi
Residents of Kiirua in Mailikumi, Tharaka Nithi county have decried the destruction of their crops by elephants. They yesterday said about Sh5 million worth of crops have been destroyed in two months.
Among the areas adversely affected include Mailikumi village, Mutuuma and Nkunga where the residents claim that mismanagement of the electric fence installed more than 10 years ago has made the animals to cross over to their farms.
Silas Mugambi, a resident from Mailikumi, said they fear for their lives. He said they are not assured of a harvest as the animals invade their farms before the crops mature.
"The only hope we have had over the years is that the government will come to our aid one day and compensate us. We secure loans to repay after harvesting our crop but it is not possible to repay from the harvest," Mugambi said.
John Mwirigi from Mutuuma said for the three months the elephants have been on the rampage and come to their farms as early as 3pm. "These animals are spelling danger even to the lives of our children while coming from school. We always inform the Kenya Wildlife Service officers and they are slow to respond. Since we support the government agenda of conserving our wildlife we cannot kill these animals and only hope we will be compensated," he said.
Residents of Kiirua are mainly peasant farmers who rely on small-scale farming and produce maize, beans, wheat, black beans and potatoes. Elsewhere, Tharaka Nithi Governor Samuel Ragwa has asked Kiang'ondu residents to be calm and stop politicising the fencing of the Mt Kenya Forest to keep elephants off their farms.
Speaking in his office, Ragwa said the elephants have been disturbing the residents and have destroyed farms over the years. He said the fencing will begin this month.
"The residents need to be calm. There are people who are complaining seeking to stall the fence. This project should not be politicised. It's not a land adjudication exercise and incase adjudication is done and it's realised that the fence encroached on somebody's land, we will with no move the fence," Ragwa said.