Wundanyi, Kenya – Farmers adjacent to Ngangao Forest in Wundanyi are facing an unprecedented challenge as clans of monkeys from the conserved forest are wreaking havoc on their crops. The forest, known for its dense indigenous trees and rich biodiversity, has become a battleground for farmers trying to protect their livelihoods from these voracious animals.
According to Kenya News Agency, Ngangao Forest’s successful conservation has led to a surge in the monkey population, which has turned into a nightmare for them. Crops like guavas, bananas, beans, and maize are under constant threat from these monkeys. Farmers like Ms. Ariatha Wakesho from Mchungunyi village describe their daily struggles with the apes, who retreat into the forest after their raids.
Living in a predator-free environment, the monkeys have multiplied rapidly, leading to their numbers reaching the thousands, as per local rumors. Wundanyi MP Danson Mwashako highlighted the irony of the situation, where local farmers’ conservation efforts have led to the infestation of these troublesome apes. He called for immediate action, proposing radical measures such as neutering male monkeys and placing female monkeys on a strict family planning regime to control their population.
Photographs by Wagema Mwangi show Kenya Forest Service (KFS) guards patrolling the forest, but their presence has done little to deter the monkeys. Tourism and Wildlife CS Dr. Alfred Mutua has promised to deploy primate experts and biotechnology teams from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to address the issue.
One of the main grievances of the farmers, as expressed by Ms. Poline Nanjala from Mghambonyi village, is the lack of government compensation for losses caused by monkey activities. Under the Wildlife Management and Compensation Act 2013, monkeys are not included among the wildlife species eligible for compensation, leading to calls for their inclusion.
The origins of the monkey problem are a topic of debate and speculation among the farmers. Some believe that the monkeys were relocated to Taita Forest by the KWS from areas like Mwatate, Voi, and Taveta, where they had become a nuisance. However, KWS dismisses these claims, suggesting that the monkeys migrated to the forest naturally in search of food and a safer environment.
As the community grapples with this issue, the challenge remains in finding a balance between conservation efforts and the well-being of the local farming communities.