Elephants rescued after villagers hold herd hostage for destroying their crops (Kenya)


Nicole Morley, Metro.co.uk

Date Published
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A herd of elephants had to be saved after getting stuck in a dam.

Authorities rescued the elephants after the residents of a Kenyan village drove them into the water.
The elephants wandered into a dam where they became stuck, in Laikipia County, Kenya.
Locals attempted to keep them there by throwing rocks in the animals’ direction to protect their crops.
The villagers had allegedly held the elephants in the dam for their ruined maize crop and were stirred to anger when a helicopter arrived to drive the elephants to safety.
When the vegetation around the dam was set on fire, the elephants were forced to huddle together for safety and the Kenya Wildlife Service was required to control an increasingly hostile crowd.
Working together with conservationists, the KWS was able to allow the elephants to slip away under the cover of darkness.
Maurice Schutgens, 27, a conservation biologist in Kenya, said: ‘We had received a report from our scouts in the field that seven elephants were stuck in a dam.
‘We felt we could get there pretty quick and help the Kenya Wildlife Service co-ordinate a rescue of the elephants.
‘Only upon reaching the dam did it become clear that the community was holding this group hostage and that it would take a helicopter to coax them from the dam.
“You could taste the tension in the air and it would not have taken much to see the whole situation descend into bloodshed. The community was outraged at the loss of their crops and the KWS rangers were extremely tense.’
Schutgens added the incident is a pretty clear indicator of brutal reality of human elephant conflict.
‘When communities have their farms raided, crops destroyed and their livelihoods threatened their complaints often fall on deaf ears.
‘So when the elephants are trapped they see it as an opportunity to demand compensation,’ he said.