The county covers an area of 17,083.9 km2, of which 62% or 11,100 km2, is within Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks. The remaining 5,876 km2 consists of small scale farms, ranches, sisal estates, water bodies (such as Lakes Chala and Jipe in Taveta and Mzima springs), and the hilltop forests.
As the Tsavo National Park covers approximately two-thirds of the land area of Taita Taveta County, growth in human population causes conflict with wildlife. .
The national population census carried out in 1969 put the number of persons in the then Taita Taveta district at 110,742. The Kenya Population and Housing Census of August 2019 found that the number of people in Taita Taveta county was 340,671 representing an increase of 207.6% in fifty years. The growth of the human population means that land close to the park boundaries is converted from bush land into settlements. Consequently, people have been killed by wildlife, as others lose crops and livestock.
The Taita Hills forest hold a unique biodiversity with 13 taxa of plants and 9 taxa of animals found only in the Taita Hills and nowhere else in the world. In addition, 22 plant species found in the Taita Hills forests are typical of the Eastern Arc forests. Within these beautiful indigenous forests, bubbles clean water flowing to the lowland areas catering for both human economic activities and wildlife.
The national government has a mechanism for financially compensating families for wildlife-related deaths and destruction of property, but residents of Taita Taveta say the process of claiming compensation is too tedious. A television news report broadcast in September 2018 revealed that only ten out of more than 1,500 claims for compensation in Taita Taveta County had been paid out in the previous five years.
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