Residents of Kwale County have demanded a lasting solution to constant elephants menace.

During a meeting with the area warden, Mr Mohammed Kheri, locals noted that the area continues to lag behind in development because the animals have made them poorer by destroying their crops.

They lamented that they were forced to give up part of their land for the animals and they are yet to reap any benefits from tourism.

They also accused KWS personnel of sleeping on the job especially when residents called for help when they were attacked by elephants.

An emotional Mr John Lugu, a resident, said the warders appear after two days when damage had already been done.

Elephants pruned

Among the solutions that they proposed was killing of the jumbos, saying that the animals were not more important than human beings.

“We want the elephants pruned the same way we cut our own trees. Do you want Government officials attacked so that you act,” he asked.

Kheri was at pains to explain the importance of the elephants to the residents and outline long-term solution KWS has put place as participants shouted him down.

The Forest Zone Manager, Mrs Nafasi Mfahaya, also found herself on the receiving end when she tried to intervene.

Tempers were only cooled when Kheri said some jumbos, especially the ringleaders, will be eliminated to reduce human-wildlife conflict in the Shimba Hills ecosystem.

“I plead with you to understand that we get revenue from wildlife therefore benefiting indirectly but if we must, we will eliminate some of them. We are going to do an aerial count of the elephants,” he said.

Kheri said KWS will upgrade the electric fence round the Shimba Hills National Game Reserve by putting new poles and an energiser.

He said the law was ambiguous on compensation of victims, as it only pays families of the deceased and not property destroyed by wildlife.

The jumbos, who have claimed several lives and maimed many others, have been seen roaming in the town even during day time.

By Tobias Chanji, The Standard

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