Does wildlife protection threaten public safety?
Elephants pose a threat to farmers because they trample homes and crops
November 7, 1999
Web posted at: 10:26 p.m. EDT (0226 GMT)
TSAVO EAST GAME PARK, Kenya (CNN) -- Rangers working at
Kenya's wildlife parks have been butting heads with nearby
farmers over animal protection laws.
Kenya has long fought to enforce anti-poaching and wildlife
conservation laws, so people can enjoy some of nature's most
But sometimes people have needed protection from the
protected animals. Kenya's agricultural regions have
reported many instances of people being maimed in animal
attacks -- and some fatalities.
Madame Mabara and her 8 children live on a farm next to Tsavo
East Game Park, one of more than 60 protected reserves in
Kenya. Four years ago, Mabara's husband was trampled to
death by an elephant. "It threw him up in the air with its
tusks. There wasn't a bone in his body that wasn't broken,"
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But beyond the risk to their safety, farmers worry about the
financial impact of protected wildlife. Cattle are easy prey
for lions. Elephants and buffalo trample homes and crops.
Some farmers want more protection themselves.
Mabara and her 8 children live on a farm next to Tsavo East Game Park
The issue has prompted some government officials to announce that it's acceptable to kill protected species in self-defense.
"When it attacks our animals, when it attacks our people, we
definitely have to kill that animal. Definitely," said Basil
Mwakiringo of Kenya's parliament.
But self-defense also is an issue for the animals. "It's only when an animal feels threatened that in self-defense it attacks that person," said Gibson Mwaluma, of the Kenya Wildlife Service.
As a partial solution, Mwakiringo has proposed an increase
in compensation a Kenyan family receives when a family member
is killed in an animal attack. Mwakiringo's proposal would
hike that compensation from its current level of $400 to
$400,000, plus market-value compensation for crop damage
caused by animals.
Correspondent Alphonso Van Marsh contributed to this report.