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Erection of an electric fence to tame human-wildlife conflict in Meru

Erection of an electric fence to tame human-wildlife conflict in Meru

Meru,

Wednesday, March 27, 2024,

KNA by Dickson Mwiti

The Mutunyi Community in Buuri, Meru County is a happy lot after the commissioning of a 2.5-kilometre electric fence that will deter elephants from destroying their farms as well as killing and injuring people.

Speaking during the commissioning ceremony, Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza thanked the Lewa Safari Marathon for funding the project adding that it was an initiative that marks a significant milestone in wildlife conservation efforts.

She said the construction of the fence underscores a collaborative effort between Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and the local community, aimed at mitigating human-wildlife conflict.

“With elephants often encroaching into human settlements, posing threats to lives and livelihoods, installation of the electric elephant fence serves as a crucial step towards fostering coexistence between humans and wildlife,” said Governor Mwangaza.

Lewa’s Chief Programs and Partnerships Officer Mr John Kinoti said one of the responsibilities they have taken seriously as a conservation group is building partnerships and the construction of the fence was a sign of good partnerships that they have with communities and the County government of Meru.

“We are building partnerships for people in terms of their livelihood enhancement because Mutunyi community is an agricultural community and having an electric fence helps to mitigate human-wildlife conflict,” said Mr Kinoti.

He added that the conservancy also launched registration for the June 29 marathon saying that this will be used to celebrate 25 years with the clarion call of connecting generations.

“We are saying that it is time to connect generations and one way to celebrate this is that we have done an electric fence that is going to connect generations of young to old people in terms of farming and that is the reason we are calling on everyone to support us in this marathon,” said Mr Kinoti.

Lawrence Riungu, the Community development programs officer at Lewa Conservancy said the Mutunyi community had for years struggled to deter elephants coming to destroy their crops in vain but through the support of the Lewa Safari Marathon Fund for the community in the 2022/2023 financial year, it has been possible.

Since the completion of the fence construction in December last year, Mr Riungu added, the farmers returned to their farms and had a bumper harvest from the last season’s rains.

“I am happy to continue supporting the community on development projects so it can see the value and the benefits of what they do daily,” said Mr Riungu.

Mutunyi Community Chairman Mr David Mwiti Nabea said that in the past they had serious challenges emanating from the invasion of elephants which had led to people abandoning their farms and relocating to the market areas.

He said they tried to construct a stone fence along the routes that elephants use in vain until they got a partnership with Lewa Conservancy.

“When Lewa came in they sat down with the community’s development committee where we agreed that constructing an electric fence to deter elephants from invading our farms was a priority.To own the project, the community participated in the project by way of providing labour while the conservancy gave us the required materials,” said Mr Mwiti.

He said with the establishment of the fence, the community members can presently walk around and sleep comfortably.

Ms Gladys Nkatha said they are happy that they can now comfortably utilise their farms and produce adequate food for both consumption and commercial purposes.

“Since our relocation to this area in 1986, we have been having conflicts with elephants which made it impossible for us to do any crop production in our farms as they would eventually be destroyed by elephants.

“At the moment we can now get back to our farms and stop leasing farms in other areas,” said Ms Nkatha.

Courtesy; KNA

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