Story by Linet Minayo.
An unknown number of leopards broke into a farmer’s homestead and killed 15 sheep on Saturday morning at Olorien village in Kajiado County.
The beasts attacked and killed all the 15 sheep after breaking into their pen as the owner, Julius Kinayia and his wife was asleep at 3 am.
The newly wedded man and wife said the death of the 15 sheep has left them devastated because they had planned to sell them off and raise the money for buying a grade cow for milk.
Kinayia said he learned of the attack after going out to check on his sheep at 4 am, adding that he found some of them breathing faintly.
“I knew they had been attacked by a leopard after I noticed that most of them had their necks broken with deep canine holes which is indication blood was sucked from them,” said Kinayia.
Kenya Wildlife Services officer in charge of Kajiado West Sub County, Daniel Kirui, confirmed the incidence and added that human/wildlife conflicts are on the rise.
Kirui advised farmers who border with Nairobi National Park to enhance the security of their livestock by putting up strong fences.
“These cases are increasing by the day and we are actually advising our clients to take extra precaution in ensuring the safety of their livestock. I know it is a bitter experience for a farmer to lose that number of sheep,” said Kirui.
Kajiado KWS County Director, Muteru Njauuini said the increase in human-wildlife conflicts is a major problem in wildlife areas.
“This arises due to, among other reasons, acute water shortage, and inadequate pasture during dry seasons. These severely affect wildlife, livestock, and humans. As competition for the available resources ensues therefore, rising levels of such cases are experienced,” said Njauuini.
While KWS insists that increased cases of conflicts have been the root causes in climate variability and change, as well as the extension of human activities in areas originally preserved for wildlife, the government is yet to release compensation money for farmers.
Land-use changes and the consequences of population pressure have also led to decreases in land and other resources available for wildlife, thus aggregating cases of conflicts.
“These conflicts are a significant threat to ecosystem variability in general, and to large mammal populations in particular,” added Njauuini.
He said a number of mitigative measures are being rolled out with the aim of reducing conflicts. Njauuini cited the example of live animal translocations which have been carried out in many places to ease pressure on ecosystems in some areas.
A source at the KWS headquarters, and who sought anonymity, said no compensation has been made across the country from 2015 due to lack of legal framework.
He said farmers are owed more than Sh900 million in compensations on damaged property across the country, and that the amount is going up every other day.
At present, the source said, compensation relating to human/wildlife conflicts is paid out by the government. The assessment, rates, and payment of claims is determined by the County Wildlife Compensation Committees.
On the ground, however, those committees are not functional because, according to KWS, the Treasury has not released funds for compensation and paying those sitting in county wildlife compensation committees.
At the moment, KWS says, the compensation paid out only relates to human injury or death. It does not include the destruction of crops, livestock, and property.
Moreover, the amount paid for loss of life and injuries is often considered inadequate by affected communities, our source said.
A report on the KWS website that is quoting Wildlife CS, Najib Balala, says “The process of administering the compensation claims is also bureaucratic and does not adequately involve local stakeholders”.