Sh31.5 million crop damage court award sets precedent for KWS
The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal filed by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) seeking to overturn a Sh31.5 million compensation to a Narok-based agricultural company.
The judgment sets a precedent that the KWS is responsible for compensating losses caused by wildlife.
Five judges — Justice Mohamed Ibrahim, Jackton Ojwang, Smokin Wanjala, Njoki Ndung’u and Isaac Lenaola — affirmed the awarding of Sh31.5 million compensation to Rift Valley Agricultural Contractors Limited for crop damage by wildlife that occurred in June 2000.
The judges ruled that the KWS was under a statutory duty under Section 3A of the Wildlife Act to protect the people’s crops from damage caused by wildlife.
“It follows, therefore, that though the government would ideally be expected to have control of the wildlife, factually it was KWS which had the duty of control of the wildlife by dint of the Wildlife Act. Consequently, the liability for the damage occasioned falls on it,” read the judgment.
Close to two decades ago, wild animals from Maasai Mara game reserve invaded the company’s farm in Ololung’a within Narok County and damaged crops valued at Sh64,160,130.
Justice William Ouko, then based in Nakuru in a judgment delivered on July 27, 2011, ruled that the KWS was in breach of its statutory duty under the law.
The Court awarded Sh31.5 million. When the KWs appealed, judges Roselyne Nambuye, Gathurima M’Inoti and Mohammed Kuno dismissed the suit in 2014.
The KWS went to the Supreme Court in 2015. But the judges ruled: “… we find that breach of Section 3A imposes a liability on the appellant to compensate for destruction of crops by wildlife.”