Parents have withdrawn hundreds of pupils from a school in Sagalla, Taita Taveta County due to increased human-wildlife conflict.
More than 80 parents of Gedion Mosi Primary School in Talio Village withdrew their children on Tuesday for fear of attacks by elephants on their way to school.
The parents vowed their children will only return to school after the Kenya Wildlife Service drives out hundreds of elephants which have invaded Talio Village.
Previous pleas to KWS to drive out the elephants, they said, have fallen on deaf ears.
“The school will remain closed until KWS and the government removes all elephants from our village,” said a parent, Mr Gibson Kangeda.
More than 200 elephants invaded Sagalla, attacking locals and destroying crops.
Mr Kangeda said they were forced to withdraw their children from school for fear of attacks.
“We don’t want to risk our children’s lives yet the government is not concerned,” he said.
Voi Sub-County Education Officer Kennedy Machora also expressed concerns that the invasion by wild animals will negatively impact on learning if not contained.
He said his office will visit KWS offices in Tsavo to demand an immediate operation to drive out the elephants from institutions like schools to allow learning to continue.
PLEA TO KWS
“We cannot allow this to happen because education is very important to our children. KWS should make sure that they remove their elephants for pupils to report back to school,” Mr Machora said.
He said he had talked to parents to allow their children to report back to school as the Education ministry sorts out the issue with KWS.
“I have requested the parents to release their children late and (they) leave early from school. I will request KWS to provide transport where necessary,” he added.
Recently, a woman in Sagalla died of shock after she saw a herd of elephants in her homestead destroying a chicken house.
Local leaders including Governor John Mruttu and Sagalla MCA Godwin Kilele have threatened to sue KWS over rampant cases of human-wildlife conflict.
LEADERS ON THE SPOT
However, locals feel that the leaders have not done enough to arrest the situation which has become a big security threat to them.
“The government and leaders seem to ignore us. They value wildlife more because we have lived with these elephants for five months now and nothing is being done to remove them,” said a Talio resident, Rose Chola.
Ms Chola said the presence of elephants has denied them their freedom.
“We share water points with the elephants. Our food crops have been destroyed and we are now left to live in abject poverty. Above all, we cannot move freely around the village because the elephants roam around even in broad daylight,” she said.
KWS officials could not be reached for comment as their phones went unanswered.