By Linet Minayo in Kiboko, Makueni County.
An operation to send back stray elephants to Chyulu Hills National Park from Masimba settlement in Kajiado succeeded at 2 pm on Sunday.
The operation was mounted by the elite wing of Kenya Wildlife Service, Problem Animal Management Unit rangers, headed by Vincent Ongwae on the ground and the Sheldrick Trust Foundation through their use of a helicopter after the weather cleared in the Kiboko areas of Makueni county and Masimba in Kajiado.
As at 2 pm, Ongwae said at least 8 jumbos have been driven across the Chyulu Hills National Park barrier by rangers on the grounds with supports of a helicopter.
“This is a 100 per cent success operation, whose logistics was designed and executed by our unit in the face of the invasion of Jumbos, destruction to property and causing the loss of human life in Masimba on Friday night,” said Ongwae.
Ongwae said the operation that was expected to take two days was executed in hours after having been briefly interfered by weather and a group of 17 Maasai morans who forcefully joined the Rangers in chasing away the beasts.
“At some point, I was forced to call Mashuuru deputy county commissioner, Stephen Nyakundi to help us in controlling the morans. He acted accordingly and some elders were able to remove them from the frontline,” said Ongwae after the exercise.
He explained that anxiety among wildlife in Kiboko springs that have been affected by oil bleed on the Kenya Pipeline in Kiboko, Makueni County, had forced the animals to seek an alternative source of drinking water.
A costly blunder during the construction of a Sh48 billion on its 20-inch pipeline was detected early in the month and is said to have affected water streams in the area.
Another contributor to the invasion of human settlement areas in Masimba and around Chyulu Hills National Park, according to Ongwae, is the decision by the courts to allow Makueni residents to continue staying on Mikururo Ranching Scheme, an area that had been marked for wild animals.
“This area borders the national park and is rich in green vegetation. But after our effort to keep human settlements out of it, the courts stopped us and this is now the results of that ruling,” said Ongwae.
As one of Africa’s oldest wildlife charities and leading conservation organisation, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, says its embraces all measures that complement the conservation, preservation, and protection of wildlife.
The trust has been working in collaboration with KWS to enhance wildlife conservation in Chyulu Hills, and Sunday played a major role in providing a helicopter that did the work in the shortest time.