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Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Elephants destroy maize farm in Leleshwa


By Dennis Kipkirui

Three elephants invaded a maize farm in Leleshwa village in Sipili Division. The elephants which are believed to have come from Laikipia Conservancy arrived in the wee hours and destroyed the maize field. The caretaker of the farm informed the authorities who responded after several hours. The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) officers arrived at the scene and by the time we went to press they had not succeeded in driving away the herbivores. It is believed that the animals defied the scare-mastery by the KWS wardens and continued to graze on the maize field.

The 15 acre maize farm belongs to Albert Waigwa Kariuki a brother to the former area MP and powerful cabinet minister G.G Kariuki. According to Duncun Waigwa the son to Waigwa Kariuki, the elephants invaded the farm at around 4am. The farm has green maize and is believed to have made the elephants to defy orders from the KWS officers to move. 

Our source who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter revealed that KWS officers were planning to kill one of the elephants to scare the rest from the farm. When LRV contacted the local administration, they could not confirm nor deny the matter. Senior Assistant-Chief John Kimayo was non-committal and argued that probably the KWS team is waiting until evening hours when the elephants are believed to be on transit.

Elephant and the calf (Photo: Courtesy of beaconict.com)
Sipili OCS urged  residents not to go near the scene to avoid putting their lives in danger. Mr.Duncun Waigwa, son to the farm owner, was full of wrath, “every time we see these incidences happening and the government has not done anything to curb the situation. We are never compensated in the pretext that the bill is in parliament and has not been passed to warrant compensation.”

LRV has confirmed that an electric fence had been constructed around Lariak forest but was destroyed by the residents. CDF funds have been used to replace the fence and work is currently on progress.
Other schools of thought believe that the wildlife could have come out of Lariak forest and discovered the maize field. Traditionally Lariak forest has been the place of birth for elephants in Laikipia County. They travel all the way to give birth there. It is therefore believed the calves came out of the forest. The forest also serves as the migration corridor for the elephants. 

Human-wildlife conflicts are common in Laikipia. In July buffaloes invaded a 10 acre maize farm in. June also saw three donkeys mauled by lions in Nyakinyua village. People have also lost lives due to constant wildlife invasion in the area.

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