By Raphael Mwadime, The Star, 18 April 2013
The Kenya Wildlife Services has launched an air and ground operation to drive back herds of elephants that are terrorising Mwatate villages.
For the past two weeks, elephants have been roaming around villages in Mwatate constituency posing a security risk and at the same time trampling on maize and bean crops thus causing heavy losses.
The most affected areas are Maktau,Mwashuma, Godoma,Kishushe and Msorongo villages in Maktau location.
Maktau location is a perennial human wildlife conflict hotspot following its position along the elephant migration corridor.
Every year, elephants migrate from Tsavo to Mkomanzi conservation area in Tanzania resulting to the human elephant conflict in the region.
Kenya Wildlife Services Senior Assistant Director in charge of the Tsavo conservation area,Mr. Julius Kimani said that a chopper has been stationed at Makatau to assist the ground teams in driving the elephants back to the park.
“We received a chopper from our Nairobi headquarters to assist in driving back the elephants to the park,” he said adding that the operation has been going on since last weekend.
He said that two weeks ago, they were forced to pull down a two kilometre electric fence around the park so that the elephants could be driven back to the park.
“We had to pull down two kilometres of the electric fence so that the elephants could be moved back to the park by the chopper.After that, the fence was put up again,” he said.
Kimani said that the elephants stray from the nearby Taita hills sanctuary using the Mwatate Taveta road into the nearby Maktau villages.
Yesterday,Bura Maktau ward representative Flumence Mshila decried the rampant human wildlife conflict in the area, saying it had caused heavy losses among the residents.
“We received good rains this month and people had planted large portions of their land only for the elephants to destroy the crops,” he said.
Mshila said that despite the KWS putting up an electric fence, the elephants still strayed into their farms.
“Maktau,Mwashuma, Godoma and Msorongo people are decrying the heavy losses that have resulted from elephant invasion.They now say they might remove the electric fence since its of no help to them,” he said.