KWS seizes 500 head of cattle in Tsavo park

At least 500 head of cattle belonging to the Maasai community, which authorities claim were found grazing illegally in Tsavo National Park, have been seized.

The animals have now been forfeited to the State, sparking anxiety among the pastoralists.

The livestock were forfeited to the State following an application in court by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) personnel after the owners failed to show up and identify their animals at Salaita holding ground.

All the animals were found at Njoro within the Tsavo West National Park on July 7.

The application filed by assistant KWS warden Stephen Otieno was heard and determined at the Taveta Principal Magistrate's court.

When The Standard visited Salaita holding ground, tension was high as KWS personnel kept vigil.

An attempt by Maasai morans to raid and drive away the livestock was thwarted.

Senior KWS personnel declined to speak to the press and referred us to KWS headquarters in Nairobi.

"We are not allowed to speak to the press these days. You can talk to the KWS Spokesman Paul Gathitu for details," said one of the KWS personnel.

However, Mr Gathitu did not respond to calls.

"I'm in a meeting," the spokesman wrote in a text message yesterday.

The herders accused KWS of applying the law selectively.

Mata MCA Reuben Tiges and youth leader Paul Parit said the herders had lost more than Sh28 million following the punishment.

They claimed KWS drove away the animals after they failed to give a "protection fee" of Sh10,000 to the authorities.

"Every family has been paying Sh10,000 to be allowed to graze in the park, but when they delayed to pay, they were harassed," claimed Mr Tiges.