KILONITO, KAJIADO CENTRAL
Elephants on Saturday morning destroyed crops, machinery installations, water pipes and a fish pond valued at millions in the Kilonito area of Kajiado West sub-county.
More than 10 grown elephants broke into the farm belonging to Kenny Matampash who also keeps livestock, bees, traditional chicken, ducks, and geese, and grows various crops.
Talking to the Star on Saturday, Matampash claimed the jumbos destroyed property estimated at Sh20 million.
“We tried to chase them using vuvuzelas but they were not ready to leave until after destroying half an acre of bananas, two acres of maize and an acre of trees from my demonstration farm,” said an angry Matampash.
He said he had lost millions of shillings on the property, including plants on his 10-acre commercial farm.
The farmer also lost about an acre of beans to the jumbos that broke all the water piping systems and damaged a Sh100 fish pond.
The demo farm on his land that serves farmers in Kajiado West, apart from his, is funded by an international non-governmental organisation from the Netherlands.
The demo farm is one among many in the county started by SNV- the Netherlands and Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation for the development of different forage and pasture. The demo farm with 10 different varieties of forage was also destroyed.
About 5 acres of commercial spinach he sells to supermarkets in Kajiado and Nairobi was eaten by the elephants after destroying a nearby biogas installation for his home.
Three acres of Napier grass were cleaned up by the elephants too after almost six hours of foraging on Matampash’s farm.
The modern farm in the Kilonito area of Ilodokilani ward has been visited by stray elephants 17 times since last year, including the Saturday morning invasion.
Matampash says he made 11 statements with the Kenya Wildlife Service and has not been compensated even a single penny.
“What I am left with is to take a stern decision to kill all the elephants coming into my farm, because the government that is supposed to protect my family has reneged on its duty,” said a bitter Matampash.
He said that 80 orange trees he imported were also eaten and destroyed by the jumbos. The farmer also supplies oranges to local supermarkets.
“I have been reduced to nothing. Many years of investment have been reduced to zero. My family earnings that we get from selling the crops have been taken away from us,” said Matampash.
Matampash, who is a crop and livestock farmer and an agricultural solutions expert in Kajiado County, says he applied African Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) which are crucial to addressing the effects of climate change in Kenya.
He said his knowledge of irrigation has helped him grow crops on dry land for commercial use.
“From October this year, I lost 200 heads of cattle in the previous years to drought. This shows how urgently Government should engage us to get our views on how to incorporate our indigenous system in improving agriculture,” Matampash said last week on Monday before the Saturday invasion of jumbos on his farm.
The farmer who keeps livestock, rabbits, bees and grows various crops said indigenous knowledge can help in the use of storage of animal feeds and water for irrigation.
The KWS southern conservation area boss in charge of Kajiado, Nairobi, parts of Kiambu, Machakos and Makueni, Lenkishon Kenana, said he is sorry for what happened to the commercial farmer.
“I know the farmer well, but I cannot buy his idea of killing the jumbos because the elephants have been there before the man came to do the farming. I can only describe this case of Matampash as unfortunate,” said Kenena.
Kenena said human/wildlife conflicts across the country are overwhelming due to the drought that is pushing wild animals to move out of their habitation areas.
“We are waiting for the national treasury to release the Sh15 billion meant for compensation. I know that many farmers and people who lost their loved ones have waited for a long time,” said Kenana.