The S05 million worth 70 km Maktau-Kishushe-Ndii electrical fence aimed at minimizing the persistent wildlife-human in Taita-Taveta county conflict is now complete.
Addressing the residents of Maktau when she commissioned the fence, Natural Resources PS Margaret Mwakima noted that the government had been unable to finish the same due the long standing boundary dispute which pitted residents and Kenya Wildlife Service.
I am happy that this very important project is complete and this was made possible after you accepted to resolve the dispute which has existed for quite some time, said Mwakima.
Residents had earlier opposed the implementation of the electric fence project saying it would encroach on their land.
They had previously told the government to stop the project until a boundary which was put in place since 1948 between KWS and residents was adequately addressed.
The PS and KWS Senior Assistant Director Michael Kipkeu said the completion of the disputed electric fence project has offered a lasting solution to the persistent human wildlife conflict in the region, regarded as one of the worst hit by unrelenting wildlife conflict in the country.
The completion of the electric fence project has provided a lasting solution to the wildlife menace in the region because elephants have been taking advantage of the gap between Maktau and Ndii area to invade farms and destroy property, she said.
Present at the function on Tuesday were County Women Representative Joyce Wanjala Lay, Mwatate MP Andrew Mwadime County Executive Committee (CEC) member in-charge of Environment and Natural Resources Alexander Mwangeka among other senior national government officials.
The PS at the same time launched the construction works on the 30-km Kamtonga-Bura electric fence that would cost the government about Sh45 million.
This project had also earlier stalled due to controversy over boundary between residents and the management of Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary.
Mwakima revealed that the government had released a total of Sh35.6 million which would be used to compensate seven families whose relatives had been killed by wildlife in the region.
She assured those that had either lost relatives and or been injured by wild animals that they too would receive their dues as soon as possible.
The chairman of the County Wildlife Compensation and Management Committee John Mlamba told the PS that a total of 1, 235 wildlife related cases that dated back from 2014 had not been compensated.
Mlamba said the victims’ relatives were paid Sh5 million, according to the new Wildlife Conservation and Management Act 2012.
Mwakima further said death cases arising from wildlife attacks from elephants, buffalos, lions and snake bites had already been compensated and directed the compensation committee to forward pending cases to her office for immediate action.
Ms. Lay and Mwadime commended the government for putting in measures to effectively deal with persistent human wildlife conflict in region.
The legislators said the completion of the once stalled electric fence projects and extending the existing ones would help alleviate the suffering of the local community.
They noted that scores of people had been killed and hundreds of acres of mature maize destroyed by elephants in the recent past thereby affecting food security.
Ms. Lay said the government was committed towards addressing historical injustice like frequent wildlife invasion on people settlement areas, which no successful government had tried to solve since 1948.
Let’s give credit to where it deserves. The Jubilee administration has done a lot to address some of the historical injustices meted against the community, said the Jubilee legislator.
Kipkeu and Mwangeka warned the residents to guard against vandalism of the electrical fence saying this would compound the wildlife conflict.
The region is prone to frequent wildlife conflict as a total of about 62 percent is currently occupied by the expansive Tsavo National Park, 24 percent by private farms and a paltry less than 12 is occupied by the local community.
Source: Kenya News Agency