By Judie Kaberia
An elephant is a treasured national asset and one that is considered vulnerable and requires State protection due to its invaluable tusks. Whereas conservationists will spend millions of dollars to keep them alive, the paradox is that some communities in Kenya are doing what they can to have them eliminated.
Some 80 Kilometres to the South of Nairobi is Olemurkat sub-location in Kajiado County.
Residents in the area complain that a herd of 13 elephants has been terrorising them and want them relocated.
They say the huge mammals have smashed their manyattas, destroyed the only crop that survived the dry season and have vowed to kill them unless urgent action is taken.
“Elephants are very many here. The big problem is that they fell trees on our farms and invade our homesteads. When they enter our homes, our animals flee and enter the bush and the following morning we have to look for them,” Olemurkat Assistant Chief Francis Nailole says.
In most cases, they don’t get all their goats and cows back; “some are eaten by other animals in the bush while others get lost.”
Because of the elephant invasion, Esilalei Primary School Head teacher Julius Neboo says regular school learning has been disrupted.
“Elephants are really disturbing learning in the school which is making it difficult for the young children go to school on time. Most of the time, they don’t come because of the roaming elephants within the school compound,” the headmaster complained.
A week ago, a herd of elephants invaded the small compound of the school.
They drunk every drop of water harvested in the school’s 5,000 litre black plastic container installed in front of the classes.
They felled trees and munched on green leaves and soft branches in the compound before walking away and recklessly felling any tree they found on their way.
All this happened as children trembled and feared that next the charged mammals would turn and invade them in their classrooms.
Simon Katembo and Ann Kishiengop who are parents at Esilalei say they have abandoned their daily chores to escort and pick their children to and from school.
“We are scared. Those big animals sometimes take over our roads. Sometimes they become very wild. We have to stop working to take our children to school,” Katembo complained.
Though Nailole has reported the menace to the KWS office in Kajiado on several occasions, the residents are unhappy that little action has been taken to protect them and their farms.
Instead, they have been warned against harming the elephants.
What pains the locals is that despite the destruction of trees, they have been told by KWS that the trees belong to the government hence it shouldn’t bother them when elephants knock them down.
“I went to their office and they told me that we should be cautious and we should not complain about trees and elephants because they all belong to the government. But that is unfair because if I invade Amboseli National Park with my cows, will I not be arrested?” Nailole asked.
He said were it not for the directive by KWS, the residents would kill all the elephants interfering with their livelihood. “Maasais are not afraid, if it’s not for the government, we would have killed those elephants.” More....