Human-wildlife conflict on rise as animals seek food and water (Kenya)


Rita Damary, The Star

Date Published

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Human-wildlife conflicts are increasing around Lake Nakuru and crops and property are being destroyed as animals stray onto farms in search of food and water.

The situation will get worse if it doesn’t rain soon. The weatherman doesn’t have good news. The rains in March are not expected to be long and intense enough.

All three rivers feeding Lake Nakuru have dried up. The world-famous birdwatchers paradise is no longer home to millions of flamingoes. Most birds have relocated.

The flamingos used to form a pink ribbon around the shore, attracting more than 1,500 tourists a day. Lake Nakuru National Park used to be Kenya’s most visited national park.

Underground Source Dry

The drying up of the Njoro, Makalia and Nderit rivers has also been blamed on destruction of the Mau Forest complex. River Njoro, the main river flowing into Lake Nakuru, used to be permanent; now it’s seasonal.

Lamuadiac, an underground water source inside the park, dried up many years ago, the park’s deputy senior warden Haron Sang’ said.

Sang cited climate change and land use change upstream in the Mau Forest. “Human settlement and clearance of the forest for agriculture have increased,” Jackson Raini said. He is the coordinator of Lake Nakuru Integrated Lake Basin Management.

Nakuru National Park is home to black rhinos, water buffaloes, hippos and lions. Animals drink from the rivers because the lake is saline.

Heavy grazers like buffaloes have become emaciated. They are already leaving their natural habitat in search of food and water. Marabou storks drink from a stagnant pool of foul water.

“This is sewage. The smell tells it all. But it is what the few pelicans and flamingos left survive on,” Raini said.

Jumbos Crush Hut

The Kenya Wildlife Service pumps water into troughs for the animals to drink. “We have three boreholes inside the park and springs on the southern part of the lake where the water is drawn,” Sang’ said.

More and more wildlife are straying out of their habitat in search for food and water.

On Sunday, residents of Soroko village in Lamu asked KWS to intervene after elephants raided their farms and homes. The animals crushed a hut on Saturday night and destroyed 30 acres of coconut, bananas and cashew nut trees.

“Wildlife are leaving their habitats. Our officers are on the ground,” Lamu senior KWS warden Mathias Mwavita told the Star on Sunday.

Elephants Killed

Last month, Kajiado Governor Joseph Lenku urged KWS to fence all parks. He said residents killed seven elephants in Poka Kenyawa ward near Sultan Hamud in Kajiado East. They were trying to protect their property from the jumbos.

The governor also said jumbos killed 37 people in the past year.

“Residents were trying to protect their lives and farms. If KWS could do its job properly, all these conflicts would end,” Lenku told a press conference in Kwale.

The governor said 80 per cent of wild animals in Kajiado are on people’s farms.