In some parts of Kenya the relationship between human and wild animals has always been sour. In the region of Central Kenya known as Laikipia, crop destruction by elephants and poaching has heightened the conflict.
“They have done a lot of mess to us; bananas, I used to sell sugarcane with vehicles. Some people could come and cut sugarcane from my shamba and I get money, but today see the little I have down there. I cannot make any money, very short; it doesn’t grow any longer because the elephants came and ate the leaves, destroyed, followed by the buffalo that came and ate even the napier grass; it was as if I am rearing the animals around in my shamba (garden),” said Paul Njoroge, a farmer in Laikipia
These conflicts pushed an elephant protection NGO advocating for the ‘Space for Giants’ to launch the construction of a 163km electric fence barrier around the Western Laikipia game reserve in June.
“So the first thing we’ve got to do as elephants conservationists, as a country, and as people who support conservation for the nation, is we’ve got to ensure that our smallholder farmers are protected and that why we here today. Its’ very easy to talk about protecting elephants but if people aren’t protected then we really haven’t got a hope of protecting elephants in the future,” Max Graham, founder and CEO of Space the Giants told AFP.
The construction of the barrier will approximately take two years to complete at an average cost of £775,000 to protect one of the most hunted animals in the wild and also to reduce the human- wildlife conflict.