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KWS concerned over wildlife deaths due to drought

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 currently experiencing increased 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 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 invasion of livestock in national parks has been reported to increase in all parks across the country.

“Wildlife including elephants and buffalos are running away from parks because livestock have invaded the national parks. We will not allow this to happen,” he said.

He said increased 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 drought situation worsens.

KWS launched an elephant aerial census exercise last week at Tsavo-Mkomanzi conservation.

The census also aims at counting the exact number of livestock which have invaded the Tsavo conservation area.

An aspiring senatorial candidate, Tole Mwakidedi has urged the county government to declare the influx of livestock as 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 menance?” he asked.

KWS Coast security coordinator, Paul Kipkoech said over 80 000 cattle had invaded the Tsavo national park.

He said the service had launched an exercise 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.

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