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A demonstration in Kenya against the threats posed by wildlife has turned deadly, with four protesters shot dead.
The protesters clashed with security forces, resulting in the fatal shootings, Mashuru town police chief Charles Chepkonga said on Thursday, adding that police would investigate what happened.
Kajiado county Governor Joseph Ole Lenku called on police to avoid using “excessive force” and urged Kenyan wildlife authorities to “keep their animals away from our people” in a statement.
“These deaths could have been avoided with a little more understanding that the local communities are getting frustrated by the loss of human lives to wildlife,” the governor said.
Thursday’s demonstration blocked the Nairobi-Mombasa highway for hours, as protesters placed rocks and burning tires on the road, leading police to intervene.
Kenyans vs Wildlife
Residents have repeatedly called on the Kenya Wildlife Service to find a solution to the conflicts between people and animals.
Farmers are upset that elephants destroy their crops and at times kill people.
Reports of wildlife straying into human habitats in the country have increased in recent years as the animals come under growing pressure from cities expanding into ancient migration and hunting grounds.
In December last year, a pack of hyenas killed two people over a span of 24 hours in a village just 50 kilometres (31 miles) east of Kenya’s capital Nairobi.
In the same month, a leopard wandered into a house in southeastern Kenya after straying from its home in Tsavo National Park before rangers rescued it.
In another incident last year, a lion caused panic in July after straying from its habitat in Nairobi National Park into a crowded neighbourhood south of the city.