Dozens of animals are dying across the country due to ongoing severe drought, a Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) official has said.
Speaking to journalists at Sarova Taita Hills hotel in Mwatate on Monday, KWS spokesperson Paul Gathitu said wildlife, including hippos and buffaloes, have died due to lack of water and pasture in national parks and reserves.
Mr Gathitu mentioned Ijara, Lamu, Samburu, Chyulu and Tsavo as some of the affected areas.
“We lost fifteen hippos at Lake Kenyatta in Lamu. In Ijara we lost a number of buffaloes due to lack of water,” he said.
He said areas bordering Chyulu are seeing rising cases of human-wildlife conflicts as animals invade areas in search of water and pasture.
“A woman was killed by marauding elephants which had invaded the village round that area,” he said.
He said the animals have been greatly affected by the drought, adding that the KWS has put up measures to help the animals.
For instance, Mr Gathitu said, the wildlife agency will drill boreholes in Chyulu national parks for elephants to access water within the park.
“At the moment, elephants are being forced to walk long distances in search of water. This has also affected their health,” he said.
He said cases of livestock invading national parks have been reported to be on the rise in all parks across the country.
He said the rising number of cattle illegally entering national parks and reserves is a big concern for the government.
He said the government is urging herders to sell off some of their livestock as the drought worsens.
The KWS launched an elephant aerial census last week at the Tsavo-Mkomanzi conservation area.
The census also aims to count the exact number of livestock that have invaded the area.
An aspiring Senate candidate, Tole Mwakidedi, has urged the county government to declare the influx of livestock a county disaster.
Mr Mwakidedi said it was disappointing to see that herders from outside the county were being allowed to freely graze in Tsavo East and West.
“Whenever locals try to take their livestock inside the parks they are immediately arrested and taken to court.
“Why is it that the outsiders are allowed to graze and the government is not doing enough to contain the menace?” he asked.
KWS Coast security coordinator Paul Kipkoech said over 80 000 cattle had invaded Tsavo National Park.
He said the agency had launched a campaign to drive out the livestock from Tsavo East National Park.
“We have driven over 20 000 herds of cattle from the park. The exercise is ongoing until we remove all the livestock from Tsavo,” he said.