Of bullets, monkeys and dogs: Tana River farmers blame KWS for shooting guard dogs

Farmers at the Bura Irrigation Scheme in Tana River County have demanded legal action against the Kenya Wildlife Service Officers for allegedly shooting their guard dogs.

According to the farmers, the KWS officers fired live bullets on the dogs that were chasing down monkeys that have been destroying crops.

The farmers note that the officers killed one dog and injured two others.

“The monkeys have been destroying acres of maize in our farms, we decided to get dogs since the KWS could neither help us nor compensate us, but instead, they are killing our dogs,” said John Macharia, a farmer.

Macharia claimed that the KWS have been bullying farmers to withdraw the dogs, and had earlier threatened to kill the dogs if the farmers failed to adhere to their directive.

He said despite the farmers trying to explain to the officers the extent of damage and seek alternative ways of tackling the monkeys, the officers said that they are obligated to protect wildlife at all cost and will do so at any effort.

“They are telling us to fence our farms against monkeys, these are more than 200 acres in an irrigation scheme. If I have to fence against the monkeys then it also means I have to put up a roof which is not logical,” said Mark Munene, a farmer.

One monkey was also killed during the incident, and the dog’s owner was arrested and forced to carry the dead monkey on his back to the KWS camps, but was later released.

The farmers have condemned the harsh action taken by the KWS against their dogs, hence demanding action taken against the officers involved in the incident.

Further, they have demanded compensation for their dogs, as well as an open dialogue with the KWS senior wardens to seek security for their crops.

“We love wild animals, but we and our children will not die of hunger so that wild animals can live. If they don’t provide us with effective and affordable solutions, we shall withdraw the dogs but we shall deploy other means that will be more fatal to the wild animals,” said Esther Ngei, a farmer.

Reached for comment, County KWS Warden Asha Churo however said that the incident did not involve KWS officers.

“For that incident I have no clarification because none of my teams at Bura or Hola committed such an act,” she said.

The Human-Wildlife Conflict in Bura at the Bura Irrigation Scheme continues to widen, as residents accuse KWS of valuing wildlife more than humans.

During the December school holidays, a child died and several others injured by rogue buffaloes while working duty in the rice fields.

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