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Sosian Ranch closed indefinitely following wave of attacks

RIFT VALLEY
By Suleiman Mbatiah | June 5th 2017
Sosian Ranch Director Richard Constant. (Photo: Kipsang Joseph, Standard)

Sosian Ranch in Laikipia has been closed indefinitely following months of armed attacks and killings.

For the last one year, Sosian Ranch among other ranches and conservancies in Laikipia, has faced a series of invasions despite assurances by Kenyan government to restore order.

Early March, herders shot and killed Sosian Ranch co-owner Tristan Voorspuy while he was inspecting a burnt lodge in the expansive 24,000 acre ranch.

The region has been battling mass invasions, violence and vandalism that has drove away tourists, investors and caused job losses.

"The destruction of three valuable properties and the murder of Tristan Voorspuy can be laid squarely at the door of those political leaders who incited the Pokot and Samburu invasion," said Richard Constant, one of the Directors of Sosian Ranch.

The ranch was bought in 2002 with the aim of creating a functioning cattle ranch, alongside a viable conservancy for tourism with over 1,870 bed capacity.

"Sosian Ranch was running as a successful Laikipian commercial business, paying taxes and creating employment," said Constant, adding that over 150 workers have been rendered jobless.

The Laikipia Farmers' Association led by Martin Evans expressed fears that the armed invaders were not leaving their farms any time soon.

"Initially, the herders with their thousands of animals talked of drought as the main reason they were invading the farms. Now it has rained and grass is everywhere but they are reluctant to leave," said Evans who owns the 30,000-acre Ol Maisor Ranch.

Mid 2016, the herders from as far as Isiolo, Baringo, Pokot, Samburu and Marakwet invaded Suyian, Ol Maisor, ADC Mutara, Laikipia Nature Conservancy and Sosian Ranch among others.

In April 2017, the herders shot reknown author and conservationist Kuki Gallmann at her 100,000 acre Laikipia Nature Conservancy.

At Sosian alone, the invaders have killed 13 elephants for their ivory.

Numerous other species, including the endangered Grevy's Zebra, Impala and Buffaloes have also been killed.

The directors of Sosian ranch said they would revisit the re-opening of the lodge when and if it was safe to do so. However, they believe it will take several years to rebuild what was a productive and successful business.

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