Insurance boost for victims of human-wildlife conflicts


Residents of Parmuat Kool in Narok gather at a homestead where a hyena killed 50 sheep. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The Wildlife ministry is developing an insurance scheme to compensate victims of human-wildlife conflict whose claims stand at Sh2.6 billion in the current financial year.

Silvia Museiya, Wildlife Principal Secretary, said payment of compensation tops key priorities set by President William Ruto for the State Department for Wildlife.

“Human-Wildlife conflict is at the top of my list of priorities. I have to think through how to pay victims of wildlife death, injuries, predation and crop destruction because this is money that goes directly to the common mwananchi (hustler),” Ms Museiya said.

She said the ministry is developing an insurance scheme that will help clear compensation claims arising from human-wildlife conflict.

“We are developing an insurance scheme because it does not need to take 10 years for a victim to be compensated. You realise that we have a huge pending bill,” Ms Museiya said in an interview aired on Wednesday night on a local TV station.

Ms Museiya said the compensation bill is expected to rise given the spike in human-wildlife conflict following the prolonged drought that has driven wildlife from the parks in search of water and pasture.

“We have to find innovative ways to clear this huge compensation claim. We have no resources to clear it and hence we must find money,” she said.

The Treasury allocated Sh600 million to the State Department for wildlife to pay compensation to victims in the current financial year.

Parliament last year decried the wildlife compensation budget deficit saying it will condemn more victims to a longer wait.

“The verified and approved human-wildlife conflict pending claims that are likely to be carried forward to the financial year 2022/23 amount to Sh2.579 billion. However only Sh606 million has been provided to settle these claims in the financial year 2022/23,” said Parliament.

“Therefore, close to Sh1.9 billion will be carried forward to the next financial year without including additional cases that will be verified and approved in the financial year 2023/24.”

Read: The economic pains of human-wildlife conflict

A compensation of Sh5 million is paid to the next of kin in cases of human death after verification.

Parliament’s Departmental Committee on Environmental and Natural Resources noted that some of the pending bills are for cases that date as far back as the financial year 2017/2018.

Victims have, in the past, decried the slow compensation process by the KWS.

Victims are compensated for crop destruction, livestock predation (where livestock is attacked and killed by wildlife), human injury and human death.

Between 2017 and 2020, more than 380 Kenyans died after being attacked by wild animals, while 2,080 were left nursing various injuries, according to KWS statistics.

Ms Museiya said the ministry is stepping up efforts to ensure that wildlife is contained in the 51 parks and 120 conservancies to minimise death, injuries, predation and crop destruction, especially during the ongoing drought.

She said the drought had so far killed 300 elephants, with the Wildebeest and several other species being the most affected.

“The wildebeest is the most affected by the ongoing drought. We have lost about 300 heads of elephants and several zebras,” Ms Museiya said.

“I did a tour of Maasai Mara last weekend and drought is ravaging wildlife. Half of Tsavo is completely dry while the other half is green but there is no water. We need water for wildlife. If we don’t share resources, including budgets and water, we will be in trouble,” Ms Museiya said.

She said there is a need for government agencies to break the silo mentality and collaborate as departments and ministries.

“Under President Ruto, there is no saying this is the budget of the ministry of Water for instance because there must be water for human use, agriculture and wildlife,” she said.

Read: Water projects cut human-wildlife conflict in the Mara

“The Ministry of Water should find out how water gets into the parks for wildlife use.”

Currently, over 16 conservancies have been established in Maasai Mara National Reserve.

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