The drought affecting east Africa is raising tensions between Maasai herders and the Kenya Wildlife Service. At least 20-thousand head of cattle are reported on the border of the Tsavo West National Park in Kenya, as the Maasai search for grazing land.
Tsavo West National Park in southeastern Kenya covers about 9,000 square kilometers. According to the wildlife service, that’s about 30 percent of Kenya’s parkland.
The Maasai are searching for good grazing land, which is scarce due to the prolonged drought.
Robert Muasya is the park warden, who spoke to us by cellphone.
"The current law and also the government stand is that no livestock should be allowed inside the park. And also, number two, we have deployed our rangers along the park boundary where normally the cattle cross into the park. And they are out there day and night. And also we’ve got a spotter aircraft, which will be able to tell us these days any livestock that may have got in last night. And we are able to mobilize our rangers," he says.
Muasya says if the Maasai cattle are allowed to graze inside Tsavo West National Park they could cause damage and illness. He says if they eat the ground bare, when rains do come, large environmentally damaging gullies can form. The cattle could also transmit disease to the wildlife.
The park warden says the Maasai have too many cattle for what little grazing land is available outside the park. He says in times of severe drought, they should reduce the size of their herds. Muasya says so far the rangers have managed to keep the cattle outside the national park.