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Herders shift their focus to Laikipia ranch neighbours

Sunday November 12 2017

A herdsman with his cattle along

A herdsman with his cattle along Nanyuki-Rumuruti road in Laikipia County on November 9, 2017. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

STEVE NJUGUNA
By STEVE NJUGUNA
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GODFREY OUNDOH
By GODFREY OUNDOH
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After security was enhanced in Laikipia ranches and conservancies following constant invasions and destruction of property, herders are now targeting any development near the large farms.

The latest is Mr Wahome Muotia who lost property valued at millions of shillings when herders drove animals into his 300-acre farm.

They destroyed property, including a lodge he was putting up and vehicles on his farm at Ol Moran, which neighbours the Laikipia Nature Conservancy, owned by environmentalist Kuki Gallmann.

Ms Gallmann, the author of I Dream of Africa, was shot and seriously injured on her ranch by her­ders on April 23.

INVASION

Mr Wahome said he reported the invasion to authorities but no action had been taken so far.

“The pastoralists seem to have intentions other than looking for grazing grass,” he said, adding that they uprooted 500 treated fence poles and barbed wire and carted them away.

The businessman said the attacks on his farm started months ago, soon after he began developing it.

Raiders struck one night and terrorised his employees, though nobody was injured.

“My workers collected many spent cartridges and handed them to police officers but no arrests were made,” Mr Wahome said.

He has lost 200 beehives and many eucalyptus trees.

“Recently, they made sure 5,000 tree seedlings were destroyed by their animals,” he said, adding that he believed the invaders’ sole intention was to evict landowners.

“I had big plans for my farm and that was the reason I built three dams. My aim was to start drip irrigation and turn the farm into a hospitality institution with a golf course,” he said.

ATTACKS

Mr Nairia Losike, the farm manager, said the herders had made life hard for employees with persistent attacks.  

“We are always staring at death due to the recurrent attacks. We live by the mercy of God,” he said.

The spate of farm and ranch invasions increased once again after the August 8 elections.

The invaders, who had left the county after a security operation just weeks to the General Election, started returning with thousands of their livestock.

The herders would flood several ranches, among them Ole Naishu, Kamogi, Narok Ranch in Laikipia North and farms in Ol Moran, among them Ratia, Sossian, Ngorare, Muthira and Suguta.

In Laikipia West, Lombara ranch that is owned by former President Mwai Kibaki, a section of former senator GG Kariuki’s farm and the government-owned ADC Mutara suffered a similar fate. Others that have been overrun are Kamwenje, Matwiku, Rubere and Miteta.

DROUGHT

Laikipia Nature Conservancy has seen an increase in violence and arson during the renewed raids. Other ranches invaded earlier were Ol Maissor, Sossian, Suiyan and Mugie.

Meanwhile, leaders from Laikipia County have called for the enhancement of conservation in Samburu County to minimise movement of herders during drought.

National Cohesion and Integration Commission chairman Francis ole Kaparo and Laikipia North MP Sarah Lekorere said the plan would reduce deaths and destruction of property.

The two said Laikipia had suffered huge losses through invasions into private land.

“We are not fighting our Samburu brothers and neither are we pushing them away but what is so special in Laikipia that cannot be done in Samburu County?” asked Mr Kaparo.

“We want peaceful coexistence and if the search for pasture is the excuse for killing, we will not condone that.”