Land owners in support of management changes in two private conservancies in Narok West Sub-County have attributed a raging dispute between two factions to outside forces spearheading selfish interest in the tourism resource.
For the last two months, tourism activities at Naboisho and Mara North Wildlife Conservancy have been disrupted as members opposed to a new management company invaded the over 100,000-acre protected area protesting what they termed paltry dividends.
But those in support of the new management say politics and money collected from tourism activities are the cause of incessant wars between its 800 members and want it stopped.
Mr Bernard Leperes a board member of Naboisho Conservancy accompanied in the presser by Landowners Mr James Sakat and Simon ole Noosaron said the new management; the Greater Mara Management GMM was there to stay, adding that the previous contract with Seyia Limited was terminated.
“There are top politicians in this county, who are behind the former management, and they want to come back using all means, even going to an extent of fuelling chaos between us,” said Mr Leperes.
Mr Leperes, who spoke to the press after a meeting with a group supporting the changes in the conservancy at Enjoro oo Lasho in Mara Rianta, alleged that the former management company director is using a group of land owners to make sure he comes back.
They further accused one of the politicians who is currently serving at the Narok county assembly for grazing his livestock at the Maasai Mara game reserve despite a ban by the county government.
“We are further warning this politician to stop grazing his livestock in the reserve or we will as well drive our cow[s] there since the law is being applied selectively,” said Mr Leperes
For the last two weeks, members of the two conservancies announced they have pulled out since they did not want Greater Mara Management (GMM) Limited, a new company, to manage the conservancy.
One of the disgruntled members Mr Peter Naurori, said the members opted to give out their land for wildlife conservation in anticipation of income but their dreams had been shattered by oppressive management.
“As members, we have been kept in the dark on the agreement between the conservancy management and tourism partners, and we found we are not getting value for our land” said Mr Naurori.
Mr James Nkoitoi Nkoitoi who has also withdrawn his 150 acres from the company, said the dividend payout was low despite the 11 luxury camps in the conservancy making huge profits.
He said a year ago he chose to fence off 100 acres of his land and reared sheep and beef cattle and raked in more profits compared to what he was getting from the 150 acres he gave out for conservation.
“After I fattened some bulls in my fenced land, I got Sh246, 000 within 10 months. So should the management continue oppressing us, we shall find ways of utilising our lands to earn more money,” said Mr Nkoitoi.
For the last few days the enraged members had move in hundreds of sheep and heads of cattle into the conservation area in protest over the alleged poor pay.
But Mr Leperes denied the allegations saying after the new company took the monthly fees paid to land owners improved from sh26, 000 to sh42,000 dismissing the argument of poor pay.