By Raphael Mwadime
More than 20,000 livestock are grazing in the Tsavo West National Park in Taita Taveta, a Kenya Wildlife Service officer has said.
“Whenever we bring a chopper to remove the livestock, what follows is mass killing of elephants by the grazers in the name of revenge,” said the officer, who requested not to be named.
Hotels bordering the park are losing business. Tourists are complaining that they see more livestock than wild animals, said Willy Mwadilo, the chairperson of Kenya Hotel Keepers and Caterers Association in the Tsavo and Amboseli tourism circuit.
Speaking to the Star in Taveta town yesterday, the officer said the owners of the livestock are influential people in Nairobi. “Sometimes we round up the cows but the challenge is the owners come and accuse us that some of their animals were lost in our hands. Where can an officer like me get money to pay for 100 cows,” said the officer. The officer said the animals have been brought from Kajiado and Loitokitok and some “come from as far as Tanzania to invade the park”.
Last week, Taita Taveta Governor John Mruttu accused KWS of letting herders from North Eastern graze their animals in the park. “Why are there Somalis with thousands of cattle in the park and no one has been arrested?
Why are our people being harassed yet they have coexisted with elephants in their farms all this time?” he said last Wednesday at a public meeting in Sagalla. Sagalla MCA Godwin Kilele said the herders are a security threat.