A Baringo man narrowly escaped death after a hungry elephant stormed and destroyed the temporary, grass-thatched granary where he was sleeping.
The close call on Wednesday night occurred at Kiptiling’on village in the Kerio Valley, Barwesa ward in Baringo North subcounty at about 8pm.
The owner, Joseph Kipyekomen, 55, was deeply asleep at the time of the jumbo raid.
Luckily, I suddenly found myself lying on the bare ground. Then I hurriedly squatted and narrowly slipped off between the elephant’s feet and ran away to the bush.
“I thank God to be alive, otherwise, I could be dead and gone by now,” Kipyekomen said on Thursday.
He said the elephant smashed one of his temporary stores containing bags of maize before proceeding knocking down the next wooden granary he was sleeping in.
“Luckily, I suddenly found myself lying on the bare ground. Then I hurriedly squatted and narrowly slipped off between the elephant’s feet and ran away to the bush,” Kipyekomen said.
Although he was not injured, the farmer was traumatised and has yet to calm down.
Following the frequent attacks by jumbos and other wild animals, angry villagers are now planning to march to the Kenya Wildlife Service offices in Kabarnet.
They pledge they will also attack the beasts if nothing is done to drive them back to their game reserves.
The animals wander out in search of food and water.
Wildlife PS Fred Segor and Josphat Lokorio have purchased building materials to reconstruct and rethatch the man’s house.
In the same village, wandering elephants thundered into another resident’s grass-thatched food store, knocked off the roof and feasted on two bags of maize. The owner Chelimo Kimwonchoi was not injured.
Katibel sublocation senior assistant James Kamuren said residents have had sleepless nights as the stray elephants have camped in the area since September last year.
He said the worst-affected villages are Muchukwo, Kapluk, Katibel, Keturwo, Ayatya, Kukui and Marigut along Kerio Valley in Baringo North.
Kamuren said several jumbos and calves might have broken out of the Rimoi and Lake Kamnarok Game Reserve in neighboring Elgeyo-Marakwet and Baringo counties, respectively.
“It has now become routine for the elephants to storm in to disturb the locals every night,” he said, adding that they broke through wire fences and destroyed farms, crops, houses and food stores.
Baringo KWS deputy warden David Cheruiyot dismissed the claims, accusing the residents of invading the elephants’ habitats.
Cheruiyot said his officers were already deployed in the area to repulse the stray elephants, “so as far as I am concerned, I have not heard such cases of elephants attacking,” he said.
“What do you expect when people are mercilessly felling trees to burn charcoal, destroying the animals’ ecosystem, hence, displacing them?” he asked.
Earlier county KWS warden Lekeren said people refused to vacate the demarcated Lake Kamnarok conservancy and they are now the ones constantly complaining.
“People refused to leave the place, so they should equally learn to coexist in peace with the elephants,” he said.
He said the only remedy to end the perennial problem is to map out and fence off the game reserves to keep people and the wild animals at bay.