• Tue. Mar 28th, 2023

Kajiado farmers, KWS standoff intensifies


Dec 20, 2022
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The standoff between Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) and Kajiado herders continues to escalate with eight farmers under custody in the neighbouring Makueni County.

Lack of pasture occasioned by the simmering drought last year has been pushing herders from Masimba area to sneak their animals to Chyulu hills, a move that has turned into a battle with KWS stating that the area which borders Chyulu national park is restricted.

Kajiado farmers now claim that rogue KWS officers are asking for bribes to allow them to graze their livestock in areas surrounding the park.

They also alleged that they were harassed and arrested while outside the park claiming to read malice as to why those arrested were charged at Makueni courts.

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Eight herders are still being held at Makueni custody as tension remains palpable with herders vowing to retaliate.

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“We want our farmers to be released unconditionally. We have lost half the population of our cattle to drought and we are just trying to save the remaining few. This area has received some rain and has pasture. Why is it that KWS is arresting us even outside the park? Where will we get bribes to offer the rogue officers who are harassing us? We are truly suffering in the hands of KWS officers and we appeal to the government to intervene,” John Topoika, a local resident stated.

Earlier, Governor Joseph Ole Lenku pledged to lead residents in blocking the wildlife migratory routes if KWS officers continue harassing and arresting farmers.

“We peacefully co-exist with wild animals which graze in our lands unconditionally. The migratory wildlife routes are within our land and we have never acted selfishly. Why are KWS wardens harassing our farmers? We will do anything within our capability to ensure that justice is served and the issue of unlawful arrest over pasture ends. We have witnessed a lot of hostility towards our people by KWS. We have not benefited from KWS as we should therefore they should stop this harassment or else we will help our farmers fence off these corridors, “Lenku warned.

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In the recent past, some wardens were accused of battering herders before arresting them and holding their animals. Each animal is fined leading to ugly confrontations between the herders.

Human-wildlife conflict is rampant in most parts of Kajiado, especially areas bordering Nairobi, Chyulu, Tsavo and Amboseli National parks.

Marauding lions and elephants are the major wild animals that pose danger to local farms, lives and livestock.

The issue of compensation for lost lives and animals mauled by wild animals has also been a thorn in the flesh to locals.

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Only a few parts of Kajiado have received rain. Most herders have moved to other counties in search of pasture and water as drought effects continue taking a toll on them.

GSU officers charged

Ten general service unit (GSU) officers are facing murder charges over the Masimba killing where four protesters lost their lives on June 2, 2022, while in a peaceful protest.

The locals were protesting against the rampant human-wildlife conflict in the area saying elephants were still marauding in the area posing a threat to school-going children and locals despite having killed a primary school teacher a week earlier. The residents accused KWS officers of being non-responsive to their plight in a protest that ended bloody.

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