An operation to evict herders from Tsavo National Park has been launched following the killing of seven elephants in the reserve in the past two weeks.
Speaking during an operation to drive out thousands of livestock from Tsavo West Monday, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) warden in-charge of the park Rose Malenya called for “a collaborative approach among stakeholders” in the fight against illegal grazing in the reserve.
During the operation, more than 20 herdsmen were arrested and 11,000 livestock driven out of the park.
Two elephants were killed in the park last Wednesday, less than two weeks after five others were slaughtered in the same conservancy.
“We need the police, Kenya Defence Forces, local leaders and residents in fighting against illegal grazing. More livestock are still invading the park and it is now a national disaster,” Ms Malenya said.
Taita-Taveta County Executive for Tourism Alexander Mwangeka said one elephant was killed at Rukinga ranch, with poachers taking away the tusks while the other was slaughtered at Taita ranch where poachers, on seeing a helicopter on patrol, escaped with one tusk.
Mr Mwangeka blamed herders, who have invaded the park, for the continued poaching of the animals for their tusks.
Speaking in Taveta Sub-County last week, Mr Mwangeka also accused security officers of failing to arrest the herders, who he said are well known.
“We are aware of those who are involved in the killing of elephants. Two weeks ago, we lost five elephants; two days ago (Wednesday) we had two elephants killed.
“The poachers are not coming from outside the country. The poachers are part of the herders. They are the ones causing insecurity in the conservancy,” Mr Mwangeka said on Saturday.
The two elephants were killed in Tsavo West, he said, bringing to seven the number of the animals slaughtered by poachers in the past two weeks.
Efforts by the county government to flush out the herders have been met with “complacency” and “laxity” from police, Mr Mwangeka said.
“The county security committee is not doing enough to flush out illegal herders. This is because there are powerful people with livestock in the park,” he said.