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SOS Rhino : In the News : Minister Tells Why Wildlife is Invading Settlements

Minister Tells Why Wildlife is Invading Settlements


The Nation (Nairobi)
Julius Bosire

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 them.

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 MP.

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 activities.

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 poor roads.

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.

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