For years, farmers in Lorelian, Rumuruti district, Laikipia County, have braved the cold nights to ensure their crops were not destroyed by the elephants that roam freely in the area.
Farmers also used all sorts of crude methods to chase away wild animals, including setting a fire to scare them away when they encroached on farms unnoticed, all aimed at ensuring they reaped what they harvested. plant, but sometimes the colossus animals would destroy hundreds of animals. farms, leaving residents to count the losses.
However, this is now a thing of the past after the commissioning of 12 kilometers of solar-powered electric fence at a cost of 9 million shillings, covering four villages in Kapkures, Tuigen, Narock and Ol Arinyiro to protect the inhabitants from human-wildlife conflicts. in the vast district of Rumuruti.
“The project was created because of the challenges posed by elephants encroaching on agricultural areas. Elephants have destroyed crops and even threatened lives and sometimes killed people,” Joel Murei, president of the KNA, told KNA. Lorerian’s integrated agroforestry.
He revealed that since the fence was erected in the area by the Kenya Smart Climate Agriculture Project (KSCAP), the project’s donors, wildlife encroachment has decreased by more than 80%.
“Since the implementation of the project, the encroachment has decreased. For example, since 2020 we have only had five encroachments. This is a success compared to previous years where human-wildlife conflict was rampant,” Murei added.
He further noted that despite the ongoing drought in the area, residents are safe from attacks by wild animals, adding that elephants would leave nothing to chance as they would destroy infrastructure like fences.
He added that the fence was joined with the Rumuruti-Marmanet and Inapmoi fences for complete security.
Kiptoo Rugut, a resident of Narock village, praised KSCAP for supporting them in the project which he noted they could not have afforded on their own. “We can now sleep, we thank them (KSCAP) for sponsoring this project. Previously, human-wildlife conflicts were a nightmare. Elephants cannot encroach on our farms now,” Rugut said.
Laikipia County KSCAP project coordinator Muriuki Kivoi said that in their effort to build the resilience of residents on agricultural value chains, they have noticed that human-wildlife conflict is rampant in the area. , thus financing the solar-powered fence to enable farmers to benefit from their agricultural products.
“There was a challenge on the implementation of agricultural projects in Lorelian due to human-wildlife conflict and the farmers had identified this as a major challenge in their integrated community action plan. So, we realized that without protecting the area especially from elephants, the project would not be successful,” Kivoi revealed.
He said the agroforestry and solar powered fence cost 18 million shillings and they decided to use solar powered electric fences since all their projects focus on environmental protection.
The coordinator said that through Lorelian Agroforestry for Sustainable Land Development, which focuses on growing agroforestry trees, farmers have benefited from 17,200 mango seedlings planted on about 300 acres of land. Kivoi further noted that residents received 110 beehives to enhance protection against elephant encroachment. He said that after the fence is put into operation, residents would have to manage it.
The Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Project is a government project jointly supported by the World Bank aimed at improving climate-smart agriculture practices among smallholder farmers, agro-pastoralists and pastoral communities in arid and semi-arid areas. The project started in 2018.
By Muturi Mwangi