By Athman Amran
The Maasai community in Trans Mara, Narok County, has threatened to paralyse tourism at the world-famous Maasai Mara Game Reserve.
They want the Government to give them 26,000 hectares of land they are claiming ownership.
The community who claim ownership to five group ranches under the Ilkareshe Group Trust have given Lands Minister James Orengo until July 24 to revert the land back to them.
Mr Orengo had promised to visit the community and tour the disputed land on July 24 after they complained that two individuals have allegedly grabbed it despite it being allocated to them in 1975.
“If Orengo fails to turn up on July 24, we will assemble and block entry into the reserve. There will be no game drives,” Ilkareshe Group Trust secretary Ratik ole Kuyawa said during a press conference at Chester House, Nairobi on Friday.
He was with university students from various institutions led by the Kenya Maa University Students chairman Raphael Maleto. The students vowed to go on hunger strike and join the community in paralysing tourism activities in the area.
The disputed ranches are Kimintet, Oloirien and Kerinkani which contain Kichwa Tembo, Butlter, Skyship and little governors’ camps and an airstrip used by tourists and visitors. It also includes the famous Masai Mara Game reserve which attracts about a million tourists a year.
“The land was given to the community since 1975 to be grazing land but was grabbed by some people. All we are asking is that the land be returned to the community,” Mr Maleto said as they displayed a title deed, which the minister has since alleged to be fake.
The community want the Government to revoke the titles given to the two individuals, which they claimed earns them Sh200 million annually through park entry fees and land lease.
But in a paid up advert in local dailies on Friday the Trans mara County Council chairman Councillor Daniel Seitai said the allegations by the Ilkareshe Group Trust “are false and fraudulent”.