Tourists stranded as protesters block road to Mara using dead sheep


Sheep

Hundreds of tourists on holiday to and from the Maasai Mara Game Reserve were stranded for over four hours after locals at Nkailale Mpoponi village market blocked the highway with carcasses of sheep and thorns.

According to the owner of the dead sheep, hyenas attacked the herd at midnight killing close to two hundred sheep by mauling them at random.

The irate villagers accused game officials of poor response to calls of distress when wild animals harm humans and their livestock as compared to the time it takes them to respond when wild animals are injured by humans.

Kenya Wild Life Service officials confirmed the incident and promised to compensate the aggrieved farmer through the normal procedure.

Area MCA Henry Siololo who visited the scene accused KWS officials of using excessive force against the protesters, further urging the area MP to speed up investigations.

The protesters later heeded to the MCA’s plea and cleared the carcasses from the road for vehicles to pass.

Tourism is among the leading foreign income generating entities in Kenya and is slowly recovering following the recent spate of terrorist attacks in the country.

This is not the first incident of human-wildlife conflict.

Last month, the Taita Taveta County Government was planning to go to court to seek compensation from Tsavo National Park on behalf of its residents.

Speaking in Mwatate during this year’s Mashujaa Day celebrations, Governor John Mtuta Mruttu called on the Members of Parliament from Mwatate, Taveta, Voi and Wundanyi to seek appointment with the minister in charge to discuss matters of compensation and support it fully.

Mruttu said the county’s lawyers have been instructed to interpret the law and visit the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) office to collect data on the number of people killed or injured by wildlife.

Reports indicate that residents have been killed, injured and their crops destroyed by wild animals from Tsavo East National Park, which is one of the oldest and largest parks in Kenya.

“The process to compensate the victims has been very slow and no one seems to mind the welfare of the affected people,” the governor added.

Speaking at the same function, assistant Director Tsavo Conservation Area Captain Robert O’Brien called on the residents to be patient as plans to start the compensation process were underway.

O’Brien said that plans are underway to form a team which would deal with the matters of compensations.

Taita Taveta Member of the County Assembly Flumence Mshilla, who is in charge of land settlements and wildlife, accused members of Parliament of failing to push for the interests of the local residents.

Mshilla also cautioned that MPs will become irrelevant to the residents if they fail to push for amendments in the Land Bill.

In February, residents of Kamtonga area in Mwatate Constituency held demonstrations over mistreatment by Kenya wildlife Service (KWS) officials terming the experience as torturous.

According to the residents, miners and charcoal burners are the main victims, sometimes resulting in death while others are shot for allegedly being illegal hunters.

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Maureen Murimi
Story By Maureen Murimi
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