Tag Archives: Pokot

Suspect in Kenya’s ranch raids found dead

BBCThomas MinitoImage copyright The Star

Image caption Thomas Minito was reported missing earlier this week

A Kenyan politician being investigated for the raids in private farms in the Laikipia region has been found dead.

Thomas Minito’s body was found floating in a river in Machakos, 50km (30 miles) from the outskirts of the capital, Nairobi.

Police say he was also being investigated for possible involvement in the shooting of Italian-born conservationist Kuki Gallman.

The army has been deployed to the region to quell months of unrest.

A biting drought in the Laikipia region had forced herders to invade private farms to get fresh grass for their animals.

However, some analysts say local politicians incited pastoralists communities to invade private farms.

Minito was a member of the Baringo county assembly in the Rift Valley and had been reported missing earlier this week, according to media reports.

After examining the body, police said they suspect that he was murdered because he had a head wound.

His family is however yet to verify his identity.

Security forces have been conducting an operation in Laikipia county in central Kenya after a series of attacks on private lodges.

map

Tristan Voorspuy, an ex-British army officer, was killed in March when he went to inspect his lodge.

Pastoralists have accused police of killing hundreds of their animals in an attempt to drive them out of the farms.

The privately-owned Star newspaper reports that Minito was arrested last month and freed on bond for allegedly planning violence in Laikipia and neighbouring Baringo county in which several people were killed or injured and livestock were either stolen or killed.

Kenya – hate campaign against wildlife conservancies

Daily Nation

Conservancies operate within the law

Visitors take establishment shots of Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia County on August 5, 2014. Conservancies operate within the law. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By NDUNG’U NJAGA
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Drought has occasioned an unprecedented hate campaign against wildlife conservancies.

Because they harbour wildlife and some are owned by white people and host tourist enterprises, they are easy targets of emotional rhetoric, depicting them as illegal and foreign.

Recently, columnist Rasna Warah ascribed the crisis in Laikipia County to historical injustices meted on local people.

It was puzzling and disturbing coming from a good columnist who always advocates racial and cultural diversity.

Conservancies are legal enterprises making a very important contribution to the economy through tourism and conservation of wildlife.

The biggest conservation challenge today is lack of space as the land set aside for it is very small.

So, if the country desires to conserve the heritage, land has to be created outside national parks.

But this can only happen if there is an economic incentive because it’s private land where owners have other use options.

Wildlife on private land can only be tolerated if it has economic value, which can only come from an activity compatible with conservation.

That is the nexus between conservancies and tourism.

ENCOURAGE INVESTORS

The people in these businesses are genuine investors who see the potential, have the capital to put up facilities and have the ingenuity to look for markets.

They engage local people and enter into legal leases to use their lands for wildlife, which attracts visitors who bring income to underwrite cost of leasing the land and other operations.

Conservancies make an important contribution to the conservation of wildlife on private land.

They generate income and employ many people. Studies show that combined incomes from land leases and employment are much better than peasant farming or pastoralism.

Unfortunately, we condemn these people, instead of aspiring to be a modern nation that relishes diversity by ensuring peace, safety and the prosperity of all.

Economies grow and prosper because of people who see rare opportunities where the majority cannot.

We should, in fact, encourage people from all over the world to open up our idle lands; mountain cliffs, deserts and forests to explore business opportunities.

It’s very simplistic when we disparage such people over spurious nationalism.

Conservancies operate within the law. They are all registered by the government and work in conjunction with Kenya Wildlife Service and their activities and management plans are approved and periodically reviewed by the National Environment Management Authority.

It is easy to demonise something because you hate the people behind it. It’s quite different to provide a solution.

ANCESTRAL LAND

Those with alternative ideas should initiate them rather than wage a hate campaign against these organisations.

Conservation is expensive and the government is too overwhelmed managing national parks, a majority of which do not generate revenue.

Indeed, the KWS can hardly sustain itself without donors. It’s not any easier for private conservation and that’s why institutions like Northern Rangelands Trust seek donor funding to supplement revenue from tourism, which has had a prolonged downturn.

Lastly, it is sad to justify illegal invasions and destruction of private property as a quest for ancestral land.

Where would this argument of ancestral land end if we were to stretch it to the end? Who would be spared?

With due respect to pastoral communities, we must all appreciate that the world has changed; climate, land size, cultures, economies, and so on, and there is no turning back.

The pastoralists also cannot sustainably manage huge herds of livestock as they did decades ago and we must not deceive them that there is a solution in invading other people’s lands and property. Even that cannot be sustained.

Mr Njaga is a travel consultant. dnjaga@yahoo.com

Kenya: Illegal grazers burn lodge in Laikipia Nature Conservancy

Daily Nation

Residents of Churo in Tiaty, Baringo demonstrate demanding to be given an access route through Laikipia Nature Conservancy, the lack of which has prevented them from accessing Laikipia from Baringo, on September 30, 2016. PHOTO | CHEBOITE KIGEN | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Residents of Churo in Tiaty, Baringo demonstrate demanding to be given an access route through Laikipia Nature Conservancy, the lack of which has prevented them from accessing Laikipia from Baringo, on September 30, 2016. PHOTO | CHEBOITE KIGEN | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

In Summary

  • The herders reportedly forced themselves to the ranch and burnt down the Mukutan Retreat Lodge, which is owned by Kuki Gallman, a renowned Italian-born Kenyan conservationist.
  • The attack comes in the wake of a joint operation by the Kenya Defence Forces and the police in the area aimed at recovering firearms held illegally and flushing out herders who have invaded private land, ranches and conservancies.

Advertisement By ERIC MATARA More by this Author By SULEIMAN MBATIAH More by this Author

Illegal grazers believed to be from Baringo on Wednesday burnt down a lodge situated in the 100,000-acre Laikipia Nature Conservancy in Laikipia West.

The herders reportedly forced themselves to the ranch and burnt down the Mukutan Retreat Lodge, which is owned by Kuki Gallman, a renowned Italian-born Kenyan conservationist.

The attack comes in the wake of a joint operation by the Kenya Defence Forces and the police in the area aimed at recovering firearms held illegally and flushing out herders who have invaded private land, ranches and conservancies.

According to Gallman’s daughter Sveva Makena, they burnt down the lodge situated on the hilly Western edge of Laikipia plateau overlooking Lake Baringo in what is believed to be retaliation over the ongoing operation in the county.

There were no visitors at the time of the attack at the lodge, which is mostly visited by tourists from Europe.

Kenya – police says elections will be peaceful in violence-prone counties

Daily Nation

Saturday March 18 2017
Many have died from banditry this year in Baringo County

Police officers escort women and children out of Mukutani centre in Baringo County on March 15, 2017, to a safer area. Many have died from banditry this year. PHOTO | CHEBOITE KIGEN | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

By JOSEPH OPENDA
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Rift Valley will have peaceful elections despite the current insecurity challenges in some regions, the government has assured.

Regional Coordinator Wanyama Musiambo said security departments have intensified operations to ensure peace prevails before elections.

“Security agencies are ready for the elections. We are working hard to ensure that a repeat of 2007/08 post-election violence does not occur,” Mr Musiambo said on Friday.

He was reacting to the recent banditry attacks in Baringo, adding the police are making a positive progress in curbing insecurity incidences.

According to him, the re-opening of three schools that had been closed due to insecurity was a positive sign.

Parts of Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet, Pokot and Laikipia counties have been worst hit by insecurity leaving dozens of people dead and scores injured since January.

The most recent attacks happened on Wednesday where 11 people were killed by suspected Pokot bandits who raided Mukutani village in Tiaty.

Most affected were women and children, some who are fighting for their lives in hospitals.

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday ordered the deployment of military forces to the troubled North Rift region to help police restore law and order.

 

Kenya declares national emergency to cope with drought

BBC

Samburu pastoralists are allowed access on January 24, 2017 to dwindling pasture on the plains of the Loisaba wildlife conservancyAFP

Kenya’s president has declared the drought, which has affected as much as half the country, a national disaster.

Uhuru Kenyatta appealed for international aid and said the government would increase food handouts to the most needy communities.

Kenya’s Red Cross says 2.7 million people face starvation if more help is not provided.

Other countries in the region have also been hit by the drought, blamed on last year’s El Nino weather phenomenon.

In Somalia, nearly half the population is suffering from food shortages and the UN says there is a risk of famine in several parts of the country.

During the last drought on this scale in 2011, famine killed about 250,000 Somalis.

In a statement, Mr Kenyatta said the government had allocated $105m (£84m) to tackle the drought which has affected people, livestock and wildlife in 23 of Kenya’s 47 counties.

“Support from our partners would complement government’s efforts in mitigating the effects of drought,” he said.

Mr Kenyatta added that all purchases of food and other items would be made in a transparent way.

“I will not tolerate anybody who would try to take advantage of this situation to defraud public funds,” the president said.

Behind the conflict in central Kenya that’s costing lives and hitting tourism earnings

The Conversation

Many pastoralists in central Kenya lost access to their ancestral pasture lands in the early 20th century. Reuters/Siegfried Modola

Armed pastoralist groups have, over the past few months, forcefully moved their livestock herds onto ranches or conservancies in Laikipia, central Kenya. Property has been destroyed, wildlife killed and tourists have been caught up in the clashes.

There is a simplistic assumption that this is due to an ongoing drought or that the cattle raids are part of traditional pastoral conflict. It’s true that the pastoralist march on private land is in part for grazing and water. But in fact their actions are also a form of resistance to an unequal distribution of resources.

Laikipia is an area characterised by valuable resources and diverse communities. This has created a complex political story with its roots in resource and land grabbing, political wrangling and human-wildlife conflict.

Land distribution

Land-based grievances are what could have triggered these recent invasions. 2017 is an election year in Kenya and these are often used in political campaigns. They have already been witnessed in Isiolo – an area that neighbours Laikipia – where, conservancies are also being invaded by pastoralists, spurred on by local politicians. This political dynamic can also be seen in Laikipia.

These grievances are an easy rallying cry as many pastoralists in the area lost access to their ancestral pasture lands in the early 20th century when British imperialists forcibly removed the Maasai pastoralist community from the Rift Valley and Laikipia. They were moved to the area now known as the Maasai Mara, near the border of Tanzania.

What ensued created a mosaic of land tenure arrangements. The Maasai’s relocation enabled European settlement and agricultural production in the favourable ecological conditions of the Rift Valley – an area which came to be known as part of the “White Highlands”. Africans were restricted to certain areas, largely based on ethnicity.

When independence came, it signalled the move towards individual land rights and redistribution schemes. But these schemes were criticised for putting land into the hands of a few political elites. In Laikipia, the majority of Kenyans were settled on smallholdings in the west, or remained landless. Group ranches, where a group of people collectively own freehold title to land, were set up predominantly in the north while some private ranches from the colonial period kept their land.

Human-wildlife conflict

Over time conservation areas – or conservancies were set up. These were either former ranches that moved into wildlife management or were set up by a community. Laikipia has an abundance of wildlife and these areas act as a form of public private partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service. They are mandated to manage Kenya’s wildlife and offer tourism opportunities which can attract premium prices.

But the conservancies have created conflict with some surrounding communities. There is deep inequality within Laikipia between those who reap the benefits of wildlife and those who bear the costs.

Due to the land arrangements, many smallholders in Laikipia are situated outside the conservancies or within wildlife migratory corridors. As a result, they suffer both livestock or crop destruction. For privately-run conservancies there are concerns that this is a legitimate way to concentrate large tracts of land and valuable wildlife-related economic activities in the hands of a few individuals.

Also troubling is the use of National Police Reservists by private conservancies. These scouts are private employees. But they are armed by the government through the national police reservists initiative for the purpose of maintaining “wildlife security”.

The scouts are empowered to use violence to stop poaching, but also act in security matters beyond the conservancy of their employment, such as tracking raided cattle. This has the potential to escalate conflict between private and public interests.

Political dimensions

Today the conflicts are also overlaid with corruption – particularly the misappropriation of funds that could have been used for rural development. Instead they serve political interests with some benefiting financially from the raids.

The raids have become a political tool for those looking for votes in exchange for water and pasture. And so, fuelled by the proliferation of arms within pastoral communities, some politicians reportedly use their positions to incite their constituents to take up arms and lay blame for the lack of resources elsewhere. Cattle raids are therefore often perpetrated by criminal gangs with links to corrupt government or political actors.

Previous disarmament programs have sought to address the arms problem but have been criticised for the excessive use of force by police or military. They have also been criticised for leaving disarmed communities vulnerable to attack by those communities that haven’t been disarmed.

A solution?

This is not a new issue. There have been many incidents of invasions throughout the past few decades. However, the continual framing of these invasions as responses to drought fail to address the underlying dimensions of resource distribution. Short-term programs to address famine and drought do not guard against future invasions.

They will continue to occur in the absence of genuine conversations about issues of governance, the sharing of benefits and resource management in Kenya. Rainfall and ecological conditions simply act to exacerbate the tensions.

Until governance issues such as corruption, policy, security, management of resources and development within rural areas are addressed, the conflict will continue.

Kenya  – Pokot herdeland invasions continue around Laikipia

BBC


There’s a standoff at Suyian Ranch.

For the past week traditional herdsmen have invaded the land, burned down the tourist lodge and brought in thousands of cattle to steal pasture.

Now police reinforcements have arrived and from the overlooking escarpment are trying to decide how best to restore law and order.

Suyian Soul tourist lodge – known locally as “Anne’s Camp” – is overwhelmed with cattle picking through the charred remains of the looted buildings.

“We don’t allow people to just walk onto the land,” said Anne Powys, whose family has lived on this 44,000 acre farm for more than 100 years and is used to making grazing deals with the neighbours.

Looting

Tourist lodges have been looted and burned

“We’d been talking to the local community for two months, but the young warriors who were driving the cattle came and said ‘we don’t want to speak to anyone, we’re coming to take the grass, by force, so don’t get in our way.’

“We realised that it wasn’t them but local politics had changed their minds and that was disappointing.”

The anti-stock theft police moved in, but in the confrontation a young man was killed, sparking an escalation – now the herdsmen have built cattle kraals and moved in.

At sunrise on a clear day, the sharp peak of Mount Kenya frames the horizon.

Giraffes, elephants and buffaloes are among the wildlife browsing the acacia bush.

For the past week traditional herdsmen have invaded the land, burned down the tourist lodge and brought in thousands of cattle to steal pasture.

Now police reinforcements have arrived and from the overlooking escarpment are trying to decide how best to restore law and order.

Suyian Soul tourist lodge – known locally as “Anne’s Camp” – is overwhelmed with cattle picking through the charred remains of the looted buildings.

“We don’t allow people to just walk onto the land,” said Anne Powys, whose family has lived on this 44,000 acre farm for more than 100 years and is used to mak

A parched savannah grassland rolls off far into the distance. Laikipia County is a vast but harsh place to raise cattle, needing careful management to avoid overgrazing.

Tens of thousands of extra cattle belonging to Samburu, Pokot and Laikipiak Maasai pastoralists destroy the delicate balance, tearing through the landscape, consuming every piece of pasture and moving on.

Approaching the squatters is difficult – we tried to speak to herdsmen but they are armed, and suspicious of our intentions they fired shots at our car.

Other herdsmen we spoke to blame failed rains: “It’s because of drought,” said John Lapollei, who was illegally grazing his cattle on a nearby farm.

“This is the only place there is pasture, the only place we can bring our cows,” he said, aware it was against the law but willing to risk arrest by an under-resource

Herders say drought is forcing them to resort to illegal grazing

The commercial farmers blame overgrazing and poor management for destroying previously fertile pasture.

“It’s not about drought. The reality is there are too many people and too much livestock and it’s a global thing,” said Anne Powys, who blames climate change for more extreme weather.

A local politician has encouraged the herdsmen to take over the land using racially charged language – white Kenyans own most large farms.

Elections are a few months away and politics here are tribal and ruthless.

“It’s not about white ranchers – it’s about the whole community. There’s a landscape of different peoples here who are suffering,” said An

Conservationists say overgrazing will degrade the land

Large ranches owned by black Kenyans and many smallholders have also been targeted.

“People have been misused and told to go and destroy property – destroy the wildlife – try to destroy the livelihood of the place so you can take over.”

A little further north at a large watering hole on Mugie Ranch, where buffaloes and elephants usually drink and tourists come to visit, there are cows as far as the eye can see, and more on the way.

“The damage occurring with the large number of stock at the moment is catastrophic,” said Jamie Manual, who looks after the wildlife.

“The land will be overgrazed and degraded and this will turn to a situation where we have a disaster on our hands. A lot of wildlife will die through starvation through a lack of grass in the conservancy,” he said.

Dead elephant


Wildlife that come into conflict with the herders have been killed

The cattle make their way to the water around the carcass of an elephant killed in a clash with herdsmen.

“We’ve had a lot of incidents now where wildlife has come into conflict with herders and it results in a gunshot, a spear or a poison arrow.”

It’s a short drive to another carcass – a large bull elephant killed the day before – both have had their tusks removed.

“In amongst them are people who target elephants for ivory. We have lost seven elephants, seven are wounded and we are expecting to uncover a lot of other carcasses,” said Jamie Manual.


Samburu herderImage copyrightAFP/GETTYK

Farmers say local politicians have encouraged traditional herdsmen to encroach onto their land

At Suyian Ranch there’s still uncertainty over how the invaders will be driven away and where they will go next.

And it’s not just here – other farms in the area have been hit. Maria Dodds at Kifuko farm is living under siege.

Thousands of cattle are illegally occupying her land and many of her staff have fled after coming under fire on most days of the last three weeks.

The farmers broadly praise the local police, but say they don’t have the resources or the numbers to confront the heavily armed pastoralists and restore law and order.


Samburu herdsmanImage copyrightAFP/GETTY 

Kenyan police do not have the resources to confront herders

The national response has been slow, despite updated travel advice from the British High Commission about the clashes.

Laikipia is one of Kenya’s most popular tourist areas, and many business owners are afraid that if the pastoralists are not stopped, the violence could spread and the economy could be badly affected.

Those already hit warn that unless the government takes decisive action, the land invasions will spread and the crisis deepen.

Anne Powys hopes it can still be resolved through dialogue.

“Even having lost my camp we are still willing to talk to our neighbours. We’re going nowhere and neither are our community,” she said.