Kenya launches compensation program for wildlife attack victims

Kenyan President William Ruto on Friday launched a compensation scheme for victims of wildlife attacks to help them rebuild their livelihoods and meet hefty medical bills.

Launched in the northern Kenyan county of Laikipia, home to iconic species including elephants, rhinoceros and buffaloes, the human-wildlife conflict mitigation and compensation scheme is expected to foster harmonious coexistence between local communities and animals in the wild, Ruto said.

He added that any citizen who is attacked by wildlife will be entitled to up to 23,543 dollars in compensation, while the government invests in electric fences, community-based advocacy, and modern surveillance technology to reduce human-wildlife conflicts.

“We will fast-track compensation for all victims of human-wildlife conflicts as part of our commitment to people-centric wildlife conservation. The compensation will cater for injuries, deaths, damage to crops and property,” Ruto said.

Cheetah pack on the grassland of Kenya. /CFP

Cheetah pack on the grassland of Kenya. /CFP

To mitigate human-wildlife conflicts, Ruto said the government will erect 350-km-long electric fences in the hotspots countrywide, besides incentivizing communities to protect threatened species.

Since 2014, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has received 17,000 compensation claims from victims of wildlife attacks totaling 7 billion shillings (about 53.85 million U.S. dollars), while 10,000 claims worth 31.3 million dollars have been cleared, Ruto said.

He disclosed that in the next two months, the government will clear the outstanding 7,000 claims made by victims of wildlife attacks.

Scenery of African elephants on grassland of Kenya. /CFP

Scenery of African elephants on grassland of Kenya. /CFP

Alfred Mutua, cabinet secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, said the use of digital tools has enhanced the identification and compensation of victims of wildlife attacks, averting costly litigation.

Mutua said the government will invest in livelihood projects, including water pans, boreholes, and climate-smart farming, to encourage communities near wildlife sanctuaries to protect endangered species.

Source(s): Xinhua News Agency