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Isiolo, Samburu resolve to tackle insecurity, boost tourism

Monday February 4 2019

Isiolo, Samburu tourism

Yare Hajj Bila, 22, works at her reptile farm in Isiolo. Isiolo and Samburu counties have vowed to boost tourism by tackling insecurity in the devolved units. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

VIVIAN JEBET
By VIVIAN JEBET
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Isiolo and Samburu counties have resolved to tackle insecurity that has threatened to cripple tourism in the northern circuit.

Livestock encroachment in Buffalo Springs, Shaba and Samburu national reserves is said to be killing tourism.

Huge presence of illegal firearms is also said to be killing tourism, the two counties’ main source of revenue.  

Reports from tourism county executives indicate that about 10,000 livestock from Isiolo, Samburu, Baringo and Marsabit counties have invaded the game reserves in search of water and pasture.

The presence of livestock and armed herders has scared tourists.

The two counties have also resolved to consolidate marketing strategies by promoting their tourist sites both locally and internationally.  

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PROTECTED AREAS

Isiolo Deputy Governor Abdi Issa, who spoke during an inter-county dialogue on issues ailing the tourism sector, said the two counties had decided to work with security agents to flush out thousands of livestock that illegally graze in the wildlife protected areas.

Although the two counties boast of renowned attractions, they are yet to attain their full potential due to insecurity and travel advisories imposed due to livestock encroachment which threatens both wildlife and tourists.

He said the two counties have recognised the need to strengthen the tourism industry for economic growth. 

County tourism executives Tiyah Galgalo (Isiolo) and Peter Leshakwet (Samburu) said illegal settlements in reserves and along wildlife migration routes, poaching, charcoal burning, environmental degradation, lack of support from local communities and conflicts were some of the issues affecting the tourism sector.

COLLECTS SH150M

Samburu County collects between Sh150 million to Sh200 million in revenue annually from the sector. Last year, Isiolo collected Sh87 million.

Before devolution, both counties used to collect more than Sh300 million from the industry. In 2018, Isiolo and Samburu counties received 21,000 and 27,000 tourists. 

In 2017, Samburu had 30,000 tourists while Isiolo recorded 20,000.  

The officials also proposed to use local leaders to rally communities living around the reserves to conserve the game reserves and discourage incursion of livestock in the parks.

WILDLIFE POPULATION

“We are positive that the latest push by the two counties will help restore the tourism industry,” said the deputy governor.

The game reserves, with diverse and unique wildlife population, lie on the Ewaso Ng’iro River which separates the two counties.  

Five unique wildlife species namely gerenuk, gravy zebra, Somali ostrich and reticulated giraffe are found in the region.