The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has come under attack by leaders in Kajiado County over 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.
In wake of the severe drought in the last year, the herders say they have been mishandled by game wardens.
Their desperate attempts to sneak into the park at night have also been thwarted by the wardens.
Mr 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," Mr Lenku added.
He further challenged Members of Parliament to petition KWS in parliament over the atrocities being meted out to innocent residents.
"We want Kajiado people to be respected for coexisting with the wildlife since time immemorial. We are demanding the management of Amboseli National Park to be reverted to the county government,” he added.
Kajiado East MP Kakuta Mr Mai castigated KWS officers for using excessive force on herders before arresting and hauling them to court.
"It is unfortunate that KWS officers are arresting our people at the time of a severe drought when plenty of elephants are trawling in our land around the clock. Over the years, we have opened corridors and allowed wildlife to move freely on our land. It’s about time we review our tolerance for wildlife. KWS ranchers must stop harassing our people,” he charged.
Mr Parashina, the Kajiado South MP, also waded into the matter challenging KWS to have clear laws that allow herders into the parks to ensure the safety of the herders and their livestock.
"Let KWS come up with policies and safety measures that will curb human-wildlife conflict that usually leads to loss of livestock and human lives, especially within the Amboseli wildlife circuit,” he said.