The night runners’ “president” has protested against the “massive” hunting of animals they use for their activities.
Jack Songo from Ndhiwa constituency, Homa Bay County, has accused the Kenya Wildlife Service and the Kenya Forest Service officers of being asleep on the job.
He said wild animals at Ruma National Park are diminishing fast.
Songo said they have tried to reach out to the KWS so they can work together to protect the animals, but they have not reached an agreement.
He said they are keeping a few animals, such as hyenas, in caves.
Asked how he feeds the hyenas, Songo said, “I’m not in a position to reveal that. If you want to know much about a place have a visit to the place,” Songi said.
But yesterday Homa Bay Deputy KWS warden Grace Wendot said people who are allowed to keep wildlife are licensed by the KWS after they apply for permits.
The KWS then assesses their farms and are only issued with permits to keep wild animals if they meet all the requirements.
“We have not received any communication or request from Songo. Anyone found with wild animals without a permit will be prosecuted,” she said.
Songo on Tuesday said the number of hyenas, baboons, some species of monkeys, snakes and other reptiles has drastically reduced due to illegal hunting.
“I feel excited while competing with wild animals at night. My duty is to ensure animals such as hyenas are fed and safe in the forest,” he said.
Songo is the National Night Runners president, which has more than one million registered members across the country.
Songo said the KWS officers has allowed hunters to invade the park and kill the animals they use in their “calling”.
He also accused the KFS officials of allowing residents to cut trees and clear bushes, which the animals shelter in.
Songioo said hunters should be stopped since they are a major threat to their activities.
“We want both the national and the county governments to guard the animals we use in our activities. Hunting in this region has become too much,” he said.
Songioo said hunters kill any animal they come across, even those they do not eat like snakes.
In addition, their natural habitats are disrupted when residents clear bushes.
He said something needs to be done urgently to stop this practice.
Songo urged village elders, chiefs, the KWS and the KFS to protect forests and wildlife.
He said deforestation has led to human-wildlife conflicts. He gave an example of the recent invasion by monkeys to farms and homes in Nyarongi village in Migori.
“I do not see anything wrong with the monkeys invading farms. This is because residents have cleared vegetation and they have nothing to feed on in the forest,” Songo said.
Songo dismissed rumours that he received threats from Homa Bay leaders and elders to stop the night running.
Songo, who is married and is a father of two, said he is the only one from his family who is involved in the activity.
By HABIL ONYANGO/The Star