Kaithe Mwenda Urimi Women group is counting losses after elephants trampled its banana trees in Nyaki East, Imenti North sub-county. Members mainly depend on income from bananas to feed and educate their grandchildren, some of whom have been left behind by parents who succumbed to HIV and Aids. Florence Imathiu said they make around Sh100,000 every month from banana sales, but for the last two weeks, elephants have invaded their farms and trampled bananas, vegetables and cereals on top of uprooting mango trees, another major income earner. “My bananas, mangoes and spinach are all gone. A herd of more than 10 elephants came through the fence, into my compound and went into the farm. You can see the damage they have caused. It is a very big loss,” Mrs Imathiu, who lives along the Ruiri-Isiolo road said. She said they were awakened by a commotion at 3am. “We made a lot of noise and neighbours helped us drive them back into the forest (Kithoka-Gitoro-Gankere forest). All the families in this area are counting losses and face hunger, because all their crops have been destroyed,” she observed. See also: Boy trampled to death by elephant in Taita Taveta County She said the group was forced to employ young men to guard the crops at night, and have to pay them Sh500. Just a kilometre away, Kenya’s former ambassador to The Hague Kalimi Mworia and her husband, Gideon Mworia said their cassava, mango, and banana trees had also been destroyed. “We have held demonstrations asking the Kenya Wildlife Service to put a fence around the forest, to ensure the elephants do not come into farms, to no avail,” Mrs Mworia said pointing to a 40-year-old cassava tree planted by her Mother-in-law. She added: “Kithoka is considered a granary because of its rich soils. But the elephants have made us not to harvest anything,” she lamented. She said some some farmers have been forced to harvest prematurely to avoid losing the entire crop. “We have security lights near the main house so we are able to know if they are around. But when we want to take our grand-children to their house, we have to use the car. But a majority of families around here do not have these, and several have been killed,” she said. Mr Mworia, said their banana and mango trees, some over 20 years old, were destroyed.
“They have also felled our 100 banana trees, beans, maize and vegetables. We had 17 elephants in our compound the other day. They burst our water tank and we had to use Sh80,000 to repair it,” Mworia said. In addition, he said, they have lost 400 paw paw trees. KWS officer in charge of Eastern region, Simon Gitau, said a permanent solution will be in place soon.