Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku has said he will do anything, including risking his own life, in his quest to ensure that his people get just compensation for lives lost through human-wildlife conflicts.
“Already we have spilled enough blood and we are willing to lose more, including mine,” said a visibly angry Mr Ole Lenku Saturday.
“I had offered my life as Interior Minister one time for this country. I am prepared to go the full hog. There is no turning back,” he added.
He was speaking in Poka Kenyawa in Kajiado East Constituency on Saturday evening where he learnt that 18 people from that ward alone had lost their lives following attacks by elephants yet they got no compensation from the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS).
Mr Ole Lenku also took issue with KWS for confiscating livestock belonging to the Maasai people.
“As we speak, KWS is holding 5,000 of our cows. We as the people of Kajiado are today issuing an ultimatum – it is either we benefit from the wildlife that live in our ranches or we do away with the [wild animals],” he charged.
He insisted that for tourism to continue, revenue must be shared with the county and victims of human-wildlife conflict must be compensated.
The Kajiado governor had on Friday threatened to mobilise the youth in Kajiado to slaughter wild animals that are edible to provide food for the people if KWS fails to come up with an agreeable revenue sharing proposal.
“Kajiado and Narok are the only counties that allow wild animals to live in their farms with zero benefits to the people,” said Mr Ole Lenku.
“KWS have been going around using helicopters killing our livestock and harassing the young men looking after the animals. We are telling them to get their animals out of our ranches or we start killing them for food.”
“Our demands are nothing short of a 50-50 revenue sharing arrangement,” said the governor.
“Our people have borne the brunt of human-wildlife conflict for a very long time. People have lost lives while others have been maimed by wild animals, yet we get nothing for keeping these animals in our lands,” said an angry Mr Lenku.
The former Interior minister termed as an insult, the money KWS remits to the people of Kajiado.
“I am told that Amboseli gives Sh10 million as school fees for people living next to the park. That is an insult,” he said.
“The Maasai people have had enough of this kind of exploitation.”
“We should bring an end to the culture of our people being used as souvenirs in photographs,” added Governor Lenku.
Kajiado County is experiencing a fierce competition for resources with people, wild animals and livestock fighting for the little available pasture and water as a result of prolonged draught.
Recently, the county set aside Sh50 million to mitigate against the drought and announced that farmers will begin to get hay this week.
Governor Lenku’s sentiments were echoed by Kajiado County Assembly Speaker Johnson Osoi who said that revenue sharing is provided for under the Fourth Schedule of the Constitution, which stipulates that natural resources should be devolved.
“We speak in one voice as leaders of Kajiado on this issue. Wildlife and parks, in our case Amboseli, fall under devolved governments. Our people have not benefitted as they should. As a county government we are negotiating with the relevant agencies to rectify this matter,” explained Mr Osoi.
Nominated Senator Mary Seneta said KWS needs to cultivate a better working relationship with the people of Kajiado, especially during the ongoing dry season.
“These wild animals feed on vegetation that is also consumed by our animals. This is bound to bring about conflict considering that some of these animals live in our farms, not just in the parks,” she explained.
“Our people need to benefit from such an arrangement.”