Mau Forest politics: Chicken coming home to roost
SEE ALSO :The gods must be crazy“We have complained to the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) but nothing is happening,” says the environmentalist. He says if the situation continues, cases of human-wildlife conflict in the region might escalate adding that there is a need for concerted efforts to save the Mau water tower as well as regulate large-scale farmers from abstracting water during dry seasons. Early this year, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) raised the alarm on the increasing cases of human-wildlife conflict. The wildlife agency said the incidents are on the rise because the ongoing dry spell forces wildlife out of their natural habitat as they search for pasture and water. Among the areas most affected by the conflicts are Narok, Taita Taveta, Laikipia, Kajiado, Meru, Mau, Marsabit, Lamu and Mount Kenya.
SEE ALSO :Lift ban on land deal in Mau, State told“There are no large tracks of forest in the excised area that can be recovered. However, there are some isolated valuable forest plantations along the boundary between the excision and settlements,” says Michael Gachanja of the Kenya Forest Network. He says some 2,300 households were recorded encroaching up to 10 kilometres into the remaining gazetted forest reserve in 2005. Gachanja blames corruption, a wavering political will and abuse of office as the key contributors to forest loss in the country. Kenya currently has less than the 10 per cent recommended forest cover. Other than Ewaso Nyiro and Mara rivers that are almost completely dry, water levels of Narok Enkare, which Narok town residents depend on for clean water supply, Enkare Ngo’sor, Entoroboni, Sikinder and several other small rivers whose source is the forest, have over the last 20 years continued to drop. Pull and push Residents fear that the cause of ethnic clashes will shift from perennial land ownership problems to availability of water. Over the last two decades production of wheat and other crops has declined because of the changing weather patterns. The country has a land mass of about 144 million acres and only 1.7 million is currently under forest cover. There has however been pull and push over the fate of over 50,000 people who are still residing in the Masai Mau Forest after the government evicted over 10,000 from Kosia and Nkareta areas in September last year. Narok County Commissioner George Natembeya says they are ready to embark on phase two of the evictions, but were waiting for a directive from Environment CS Keriako Tobiko. The future of the Mau Forest however lies in the hands of the Environment and Lands Court sitting in Nakuru after Chief Justice David Maraga appointed a three-judge bench to hear Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony’s petition, challenging the looming phase two of evictions targeting over 40,000 people.
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