Laikipia ranchers protest invasion of their lands by illegal grazers

Over 2000 heads of cattle flushed out of private, government ranches Security officers drive away cattle that were illegally grazing on private and government ranches in Laikipia. [Jacinta Mutura/Standard]

Laikipia ranchers have protested against the invasion of their land by illegal grazers.

Last week, hundreds of herders invaded ranches in search of food and water for their animals.

The most affected ranches are Jennings farm in Rumuruti, Mugie, Laikipia Nature and Conservancy and Suiyan.

Jennings farm owner Lucy Jennings yesterday claimed the herders had destroyed hundreds of acres of her land and had even constructed shelters.

She said the invasion was causing tension in the area after police officers killed one of the illegal grazers last week and confiscated over 500 animals.

Ms Jennings said the herders were from the nearby Baringo and Samburu counties.

“The illegal grazers have now come back to our lands where they are grazing with impunity. This is despite the Government’s order to have them out of our farms. They have even constructed semi-permanent houses on my own farm where they are now living,” she said.

She said the herders had destroyed an electric fence to gain access to her farm.

The rancher has appealed to the Government to drive the herders out of private ranches.

Laikipia West Deputy County Commissioner Benedict Munywoki said the Government was aware of the new invasions and that action would be taken.

More than 2,000 head of cattle that were illegally grazing in private ranches and Government land have been driven out.

Laikipia County Commissioner Onesmas Kyatha yesterday said the livestock were driven away by security officers to the Laikipia-Samburu and Isiolo borders.

“Invaders are forcefully coming back to Laikipia through the help of some politicians but we are containing the situation. The animals are from Kirimon and Kisima in Samburu County,” said Mr Kyatha, adding that some of the cattle belonged to a former MP.

The State official confirmed that Jennings 2,190-acre farm was invaded by herders last week.

“The cows that were grazing on her farm were impounded and the herders have been arrested. There is no need to graze in private farms by force. The pastoralists should request the owners to allow them,” he said.

The county commissioner added that police officers were pursuing cattle rustlers who stole four head of cattle and sheep at Kamwenje village in Laikipia West sub-county and fled towards Baringo County.

The animals were driven towards Laikipia Nature Conservancy and have not been recovered.

Ranchers and farm owners, led by Laikipia Farmers Association Chairman Martin Evans, had raised the alarm over the invasion, noting that the trend could affect their business, particularly during the festive season.

Cattle stolen

Last year’s invasions saw thousands of cattle stolen and ranchers injured or killed and lodges destroyed by invaders, thereby affecting the tourism business in the region 

In March, last year Tristan Voorspoy, a former British army officer, was shot dead by herders as he inspected some of his lodges. Suyian and Loisaba lodges were the most affected before security officers contained the situation after almost a year.

“Our officers, including General Service Unit, Administration Police, regular police and National Police Reservists have intensified patrols to ensure law and order is maintained,” said Kyatha.