Human-wildlife conflict too bad for environment

We have lived with it for a very long time. Not a month passes without reports of man and wildlife conflicting, sometimes leading to death or being maimed for life.

It is an issue that has brought tension amongst most Kenyans who live near animal sanctuaries or game parks and forests. To an extent, human-wildlife conflict is an environmental issue because it is a result of failure to conserve and preserve the environment that will benefit both man and animals.

The desire by man for shelter and farming areas has brought out the worst in him. Kenyans have encroached on animal sanctuaries, destroyed forests and destabilised the flora and fauna that has, for years, hosted other species. Human settlements near game parks, for example Nairobi National Park, has brought into direct contact man and animals. Most residents of these estates sometimes wake up to find lions roaming the streets.

Most ranches, especially in Kajiado, which used to be wild animals’ movement corridors, are now residential areas. Just like most agricultural land that has ended up being concrete jungles, the wild animal habitats face extinction if nothing is done to overturn the tide. The conflicts in Laikipia over grazing lands between residents and owners of private ranches and sanctuaries is a case in point. Most Kenyans remember when renowned conservationist Kuki Galman was shot by raiders inside her private animal sanctuary.

Review land policies

There is a need to review Kenya’s land policies. We should have well-defined rules and regulations as regards subdivision of large tracts of land and forests. Forest land acreage, as well as agricultural lands, together with game parks and to what extent humans should be near game parks and government forests needs addressing by the authorities.

There is no point of waiting for incidents of human-wildlife conflict which, eventually, lead to a tug-of-war over compensation between Kenya Wildlife Service and those affected while we have the capacity to prevent it. There are those incidents of hunger and drought, when wild animals leave their abounds and enter human settlements to look for food and water. That has happened time and again but can be prevented if the authorities became serious.

Putting perimeter fences around parks, ensuring game parks have adequate watering points by sinking boreholes and building water pans will go a long way in preventing these perennial conflicts between man and wild game.

The authorities can easily handle encroachment on wildlife habitat by man. What, however, ruins everything in this country is unnecessary political interference when it comes to the definition of land for wild animals and man. We should not allow human-wildlife conflict to continue.