MPs want farmers to be allowed to graze livestock in national parks
Taita Taveta MP John Mbwire and his Kajiado South counterpart Samuel Parashina are appealing to Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) to allow herders to graze their cattle in national parks.
During the marking of Mashujaa Day at Loitoktok stadium, the duo urged KWS to be lenient to farmers during the drought season and allow them a safe section of the parks to graze.
They said the effects of climate change are devasting to farmers and the ravaging drought is plunging the community into abject poverty.
Bwire said he would propose a bill in parliament seeking to compel KWS to allow herders to some sections of the park to save livestock, especially during the drought season.
"Pastoralists are facing a dire situation occasioned by the ongoing drought. If measures are not put in place livestock dependent communities will be the poorest persons. They are on the verge of losing their entire and only source of livelihood. I call on KWS to consider farmers to be allowed to access pasture in game parks during such times," Bwire said.
While wild animals freely roam in community and individual chunks of land, cattle grazing is not allowed in parks.
From time to time pastoralists have been at loggerheads with KWS officers over illegally grazing into parks. Some have been arrested and charged in court over trespass to protected areas.
Parashina further said having a defined law that allows herders into the parks will also ensure the security of the farmers and their livestock.
"Security of our herders and livestock is also paramount. Defined areas of grazing captured based wildlife movement corridors is key in ensuring the livestock saving program is effective and meaningful," added Parashina.
The Mp further urge KWS to develop policies and safety measures that will reduce human-wildlife conflict that led to the loss of livestock and human lives.
The duo also appealed to well-wishers to donate food and animal feeds to suffering locals in the two neighbouring counties.
Taita Taveta experiences an influx of farmers from Kajiado seeking pasture and water during the drought season as well as farmers eying to illegally graze cattle in Tsavo national park.
On the other hand, Kajiado is home to part of Nairobi national park and Amboseli National Park among many wildlife sanctuaries.
Human-wildlife conflict is also rampant in the two counties.