Farmers count losses as elephants invade Kerio Valley (Kenya)


Onyango K'Onyango, The Daily Nation

Date Published

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A food crisis is looming along the Kerio Valley stretch from as far as Arror in Elegyo Marakwet all the way to Kainuk in Turkana County after elephants destroyed crops.

These areas are slowly recovering from years of incessant cattle rustling and residents have started embracing farming. But elephant invasions, which they say have become the order of the day, are another headache they are facing at the moment.

The elephants have wreaked havoc in farms in the two counties, with many farmers starting to shy away from agricultural activities, arguing that there is no need to plant crops which are later destroyed by the wild animals.

Farmers on the more than 600 acres Koputiro Irrigation Scheme and rain-fed fields in Kaptir and Lobokat wards in Turkana County are counting losses after their farms were invaded by more than 200 elephants believed to have migrated from Uganda.

They now fear that they will now have to seek relief food, something which they had forgotten after peace returned to the region.

Rebecca Ekuleu Maraka told the Nation that she is not is not expecting anything from her over two acres after maize, pumpkins, green grams and sorghum were destroyed last week by a herd of elephants which invaded at night.

Lost Everything

“I have lost everything in my farm…they came at night more than a week ago and I fenced my farm with thorns and placed some scarecrows but elephants were never scared and my son who was guarding the farm at night was chased away by these animals. It is God who saved him,” she explains.

“The following day, on a Sunday, when we visited the farm, it was empty,” Ms Maraka added.

The farmers have lamented that if the government does not erect a fence around Nasolot and Lobokat reserves, they will stop planting crops which will subject them to food insecurity.

“As we speak, there is huge destruction going on in our farms because it is like there is a migration of elephants. Two weeks ago, there were around 200 elephants near River Kainuk which later destroyed crops in a number of farms at night,” says Samuel Losike, another farmer.

“This is the second planting season. In the first one, there was a bumper harvest. This second one, farmers got nothing because crops were destroyed by elephants,” he adds.

Margaret Arot Ekal, the vice chairperson of the County Wildlife Conservation and Compensation Committee has asked the government to put in place mitigation measures to avert further losses.

“There are certain interventions which should be put in place by both the national and county governments that are lacking. There is need of having water within the Nasolot and Lobokat reserves for these animals not to share the river with the locals,” said Ms Ekal.

Lives at Risk

She added that with elephants roaming in the area, the lives of many residents are at risk. She urged the government to move in swiftly and protect the farmers.

In Elgeyo Marakwet, kocals say the animals, which reportedly broke out of Rimoi National Game Reserve, have been invading farms destroying hundreds of acres of crops while eating others.

Farmers who spoke to the Nation said they are facing huge losses this harvesting season because of the sudden invasion.

“These wild animals invade at night after spending a whole day along the banks of River Kerio. We cannot go out at that time to chase the animals because it is so dangerous. We are just left to witness the levels of destruction the next morning,” said Evans Kimosop, a farmer from Sakat village.