How domestic and wild animals coexist in Kenya’s Maasai Mara

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Lions in the Mara Conservancy sleep in the afternoon sun.

Between 2014 and 2018, a staggering $12 million was disbursed to settle claims arising from human wildlife conflict in Kenya.

The money was disbursed to settle claims for loss of close to 500 human lives, as well injury, loss of thousands of heads of livestock, and damage to crops.

According to a report released in 2019, titled “Human Wildlife Conflict Compensation Report (2014-2017)”, there were more than 13,000 claims raised.

“Other claims amounting to Ksh1.86 billion ($18 million) have been deferred due to lack of relevant documentation, while rejected claims amount to Ksh1.5 billion ($15 million),” the report read.

The growing incidents of human-wildlife conflict can be attributed to the rise in populations of communities living beside Game Reserves, where predators are said to follow herbivores that venture out to graze on farmland.

Gazelles and other types of antelopes graze in community farmland when the grass in the Mara gets too tall. The predators that follow them out end up attacking and killing the easier prey, which in this case are cows and goats.

Meanwhile, larger animals like elephants are fond of domestic crops, such as maize, wreaking havoc when they trudge through farms.

According to historians, the indigenous Maasai tribe have lived alongside animals for several decades. Rather than encourage them to move, the Kenyan government and wildlife organisations have focused on deterring the community from carrying out revenge attacks against wild animals, for the death of their livestock.

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