Poisoning invasive wildlife may be counter-productive to farmers

Human-wildlife conflict has become a thorny issue especially now that farmers are opening up more forests for economic benefits.

Threatened wild animals attack humans as they invade farms for livestock or crops for food because of the shrinking land resource.

Farmers bordering conservancies, for example those in the counties of Nyeri, Meru, Kajiado, Taita-Taveta, among others have to use all means available to keep wildlife away.

While poachers are using sophisticated weapons to kill big game for their various valuables items like tusks, farmers are poisoning the animals to keep them away from destroying crop.

Poison transfer

Tim Snow of Wildlife Poisoning Prevention and Conflict Resolution warns that the poison is more likely to be counter-productive besides having lasting negative effects to the ecosystem.

Poisoning is indiscriminate. It can even pose a danger to human health and domesticated animals. Poison passes through the food chain and very often will kill many more animals than the farmer intended.

Dogs for instance, would feed on the carcass of poisoned animals. Before death, it can drink water from the animal watering points. If they die at home, burying them moves the poison into the home environment.

Poison contaminates water sources and other environmental components close and further away-most animals tend to die away from poisoning sources, with more others running to water sources.

Non-chemical

Elephants from the Tsavo National Park are the commonest food invaders in Taita-Taveta while monkeys destroy potatoes, fruits, maize in counties around Mount Kenya.

Bees keeping errant elephants away from farms in Taita-Taveta

At the same time, Snow says, killing smaller animals is causing more homestead invasions from the wild. He argues that killing antelopes for instance, after they destroy maize, would invite the lion, leopard, or cheetah to the farmer’s home in search of livestock.

This is common with Maasai of Kajiado County, where lions from Nairobi National Park are a real menace.

“Pastoralists experience conflict with predators like lions raiding bomas at night. If there is a healthy wildlife population the boma can be protected and there is enough prey for the carnivores,” Snow says.

Secret lion dung saving livestock and crops

Using more biological methods to keep off wildlife is the most viable method of ensuring sustainable coexistence.

Lion dung

Smaller animals are scared away from crop fields by smelling lion dung. The animals think the lion is within the region.

Others like elephants, which do not fear the lion, can be kept off the farm by strapped beehives, which will shake while the beasts are trespassing. Elephants dread bees.

 

Wildlife Poisoning Prevention and Conflict Resolution is a non-governmental organisation working in East and Southern Africa.