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People and Elephants Compete for Water in Parts of Kenya

In Kenya, severe drought is forcing elephants out of their usual habitats in the national parks. These protected species are going out in search of water and to graze in nearby villages and farms, but their presence is proving to be a danger to humans.

Officials of the Kenya Wildlife Service say elephants have killed at least two people in the past two weeks around Tsavo National Park in the southeast. Hundreds of elephants also invaded neighboring farms from the Massai Mara National Reserve in the southwest.

Making matters worse, elephants charged at mourners during the funeral of a man who was himself trampled to death by an elephant.

There are an estimated 30,000 elephants in Kenya. Their population has risen in recent years because of successful anti-poaching policies. Now, with millions of people suffering from drought, officials say competition for water between humans and wildlife is bound to get more violent.

Paul Gathitu is the assistant director of community wildlife for the Kenya Wildlife Service. He told English to Africa’s Ruby Ofori the best way to prevent an escalation of conflict and violence between wildlife and people is to encourage the wildlife not to stray out of their protected areas.

He said: “We’ve put in rangers on alert, to be able to help communities deal with problem animals. We’ve sent in a special unit which we call the problem animal management unit …for the case of Tsavo we will put in a helicopter to do some elephant drives to turn them back.”

Mr. Gathitu said, “We are asking all the communities in Kenya to let us know as soon as possible when they encounter any situation that will need KWS’s intervention.”