July 10, 2003-- Environmental degradation
is the main cause of human-wildlife conflict.
Human encroachment on forests for farming
also disturbs the environment and forces animals out of their habitat
into settlement areas.
And poaching makes some forests insecure
for wildlife, forcing elephants, buffaloes, lions and rhinos in
particular to stray out.
Environment assistant minister Wangari
Maathai said this in response to a question from Mr Gonzi Rai (Kinango,
Ford-P). The MP wanted to know whether the minister was aware of
the insecurity caused by elephants in Dambule, Moteni, Nyango Dzimanya,
Mbija and Mackinon towns and the steps being undertaken to contain
Prof Maathai said wildlife invasions
were caused by lack of food in forests as the environment had been
damaged through human encroachment.
Kenya Wildlife Service game rangers
had been deployed to the towns to protect the residents, she told
The officers, she explained, had driven
away more than 500 elephants between June 18 and 25.
Mr Rai said tension was high and that
the Government should resolve the animal-human conflict.
Prof Maathai said there was a large
elephant population in Tsavo West because they had been driven out
of Tsavo East by poachers and a hostile surrounding caused by human
Mr Mwandawiro Mghanga (Voi, Ford-P)
complained that elephants had spread to Taita-Taveta.
At the same time, a study is being carried
out on sand harvesting to turn it into mining and not a social activity,
Prof Maathai said. She was answering Mr Ben Mbai (Masinga, Narc)
who sought to know what the minister intended to do about the issue
in Ndithini, which he blamed for soil erosion, water scarcity and
Mr Mbai also sought to know the plans
the minister was doing to curb the environmental disaster.
Prof Maathai said that fencing parks
was the solution, but was very expensive. Planting of trees and
curbing farming in forests would help to contain the animals within
their natural habitat.
"If we seal off our game parks,
it will mean that we reduce them into zoos, and this is not healthy
for the animals," she said.
The minister said that whereas human
population was increasing and looking for areas to farm, forests
should be spared for animals.