Arabuko Sokoke forest under threat, officials warn
Arabuko Sokoke forest which stands on a 420 square kilometer piece of land in Kilifi County and is home for many wild animals, is facing destruction by the 10,000 residents living near it due to famine.
Speaking at Kararacha Station during an operation to establish the dangers and damage occasioned by poachers and illegal loggers in the forest, senior forester Peter Mwangi said there was a real danger that famine could lead to the locals invading the forest and destroying it.
“It has emerged that there are poachers, illegal loggers and wood carvers who have pitched camp deep in the forest where rangers don’t access endangering mammals, six globally threatened birds and the innovative ‘Kipepeo Project’ through their illegal acts,” said Mwangi.
During the operation which was led by the Kenya Forest Service (KFS), Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), ASFADA, local schools, community forest association and nature conservation groups around the Arabuko Sokoke forest, the team managed to remove snares and traps that were being used by poachers to kill elephants and other wild animals within the forest.
The chairman of the Community Forest Association, Charo Gumbao, who had accompanied Mr Mwangi said the poachers were colluding with locals to trap elephants using the dangerous traps, adding that the traps are both a danger to the animals and people who walk in the forest unknowingly.
“Snares are not only harmful to elephants but to other animals including human beings, some people have lost their lives after getting sharp cuts from poisoned traps that are hidden in the forest,’’ said Gumbao
Authorities in charge of Arabuko Sokoke have asked the county government and other relevant organisations responsible for humanitarian aid to come in and provide relief food to the families living near the forest so as to save the water catchment area.
Arabuko Sokoke forest has over 600 tree species with, 200 of them being used for extraction of medicinal substances.
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