KWS on the spot over alleged herders harassment in Chyulu hills

The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) is facing criticism over allegations of harassing herders in Chyulu hills.

The herders, who are from the Masimba area, have issued a three-day ultimatum for the release of eight of their fellow herders who were arrested and charged with trespassing in a neighboring court.

The herders claim that KWS wardens have been violently attacking them and confiscating their animals before holding them for ransom.

Tensions between the herders and KWS officers have reportedly been escalating, with ugly confrontations being reported.

According to the herders, they have been coexisting with wild animals in the Chyulu hills for years, but the region’s continuous drought has made it impossible to obtain grazing for their cattle, prompting some to sneak their animals into the hills.

The drought has intensified the human-wildlife conflict in Kajiado East and South, causing many livestock owners to relocate their animals closer to the Chyulu highlands.

The ranchers have vowed to obstruct wildlife migration routes if KWS police continue their allegedly harsh tactics. They demand that the eight jailed herders be released and that the harassment stop.

This week KWS come under attack by leaders in Kajiado County over the harassment of the communities bordering major national parks.

Led by Governor Joseph Ole Lenku, Kajiado East MP Kakuta Mai Mai and his Kajiado South counterpart Samuel Parashina and 15  MCAs, the leaders hit out at the KWS for arbitrary arrests of herders who are seeking pasture in Chyulu Hills near the border of Kajiado and Makueni counties.

Lenku, in a no holds barred stance against the agency, opposed the charging of trespassing herders in Makueni law courts instead in Oloitokitok.

“We are fed up with this harassment. Our people have not benefited from this wildlife. We are perturbed by the arrests of innocent herders who are taken to Makueni courts. We want KWS to stop this or we close off the corridors, ” he said in Kajiado town.

The governor threatened to support the local community to build electric fences around their farms saying KWS had shown insensitivity in handling the human-wildlife conflict.

“We are capable of blocking those animals from trespassing into our land. We are genuine title holders and we value our land. But we cannot remain victims throughout,” Lenku added.

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