Taita residents reluctant to fill wildlife compensation forms

Alarm is mounting in Taita-Taveta County over the dwindling number of residents filling wildlife compensation forms after their crops and property are destroyed by wildlife.

John Mlamba, chair of Wildlife Compensation Committee, said that most residents had developed apathy towards filling the forms after government failed to compensate them for past destruction.

Speaking to KNA Friday, Mlamba revealed that over 300 cases of crop and property destruction have been reported in the region but only 74 victims had filled in the compensation forms.

This means that over two hundred residents who suffered losses from jumbo invasion might miss out on compensation money.

Mlamba attributed this to the fact that no compensation money has been paid out to hundreds of residents for crop destruction.

“There is a growing feeling that amongst the people that filling the forms is just a cosmetic exercise since none of the people who filled the forms have received any form of compensation,” he said.

Already, majority of the farmers in areas prone to wildlife invasion have given up on receiving any form of compensation for crop destruction.

Mlamba said the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Regional Development under Prof Judy Wakhungu was yet to properly mobilize resources to the counties to allow farmers who have suffered massive losses to be compensated.

Irene Majala, a farmer in Kajire, said that she wouldn’t bother with filling forms that were only gathering dust as they lay unattended.

She noted it was better for the farmers to devise means to repel the elephants rather than waiting for government money.

“I will just protect my crops in hope the elephants will not come. If I decide to wait for government to pay for them, I will wait forever,” she said.

In October 2015 when she presided over rangers’ pass-out parade at Manyani Law Enforcement Academy, Prof. Judy Wakhungu said that the government had set aside sh.245 million to compensate for crop and property destruction by wildlife.

She said that the money will be sent to the affected people once the compensation forms have been filled and validated.

“We have allocated sh.245 million for 2014/15 financial year for this exercise. Already, we have given fifteen million to families of three people killed by wild animals in Kajiado county,” the CS had said.

Mlamba urged the government to expedite on the compensation so as to allow the locals to move on with their lives.

He said that his committee would sit and evaluate the claims already received. The claims will then be forwarded to the CS’s office for approval and payment.

He however warned that those not filling the forms might not get compensation which they deserved.

“It is important that everyone who has suffered loss to fill the forms. It is the normal procedure because when payment starts being made, those without the forms will not get anything,” he said.

By Wagema Mwangi