Drought Leads to More Human-Wildlife Conflicts in Kenya

9 Feb 2015 by OOSKAnews Correspondent

The current dry spell has worsened human-wildlife conflicts in the Kenyan rangelands, officials warned on February 6th.

William Kiprono, acting director of the Kenya Wildlife Service, said wild animals and local communities are competing for water and pastureland as drought continues to affect the country's savannah.

“Many parts of Kenya are experiencing extreme dry weather, and the situation has fuelled human-wildlife conflicts. Recently, an elephant encroached on a homestead in Kajiado county and killed one person,” Kiprono told reporters.

Kenya’s meteorological department said last week that most parts of the country would experience a dry spell until mid-March, when the rainy season begins.

The agency warned of a dire food and water situation in arid and semi-arid counties.

Wildlife habitats have borne the brunt of the drought.

Kiprono cited an exodus of wild animals from national parks into human settlements as the situation worsens.

“Foliage and water have declined in the rangelands, and the scenario bodes ill for ecological balance. In addition, there has been a spike in wildfires across wildlife protected areas,” said Kiprono.

The Wildlife Service has taken steps to minimize problems between wildlife and human settlements.

Kiprono said the agency would construct new water pans in wildlife sanctuaries, and establish barriers to reduce contact between animals and people.

“We have mapped hotspots and deployed rangers to respond to human-wildlife conflicts,” he said. “In addition, we are in the process of recruiting community wildlife scouts to help monitor wildlife movements to pre-empt conflict with communities in this dry season.”

Extreme weather events, habitat loss and human encroachment pose serious threats to the survival of a number of animal species in Kenya.

Charles Musyoki, head of species management at the Kenya Wildlife Service, noted that severe droughts and flooding have decimated wildlife populations.

“Kenya’s wildlife habitats are situated in the savannah, where climatic vagaries are profound. Prolonged drought threatens both herbivores and carnivores,” Musyoki told OOSKAnews.