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Laikipia ranches pick up the pieces, a year after invasions

RIFT VALLEY
By Caroline Chebet | Apr 6th 2018 | 2 min read
A section of Chali Hotel at Sossian Ranch in Laikipia County which was destroyed by Illegal herders in 2017. [Photo by Kipsang Joseph/Standard]

Calm has returned to ranches in the county a year after a series of invasions by illegal herders left several people dead and livestock stolen.

On the 24,000-acre Sosian Ranch, chirping birds and a cool breeze capture the renewed hope of better days ahead. This is in stark contrast to the dark days that followed the killing of ranch co-owner Tristan Voorspuy.

Mr Voorspy was attacked while inspecting his lodges at the ranch in March last year.

“We have had peace this year, no more sounds of guns all over since they killed Mr Voorspuy. Security has been beefed up,” said Daniel Miano, a ranch worker.

After the killing, Laikipia North MP Mathew Lempurkel was arrested on suspicion of being involved. He was however acquitted by a Nanyuki court for lack of evidence.

Most operations at the ranch are back to normal, with the lodge enjoying full bookings. But most of the properties destroyed during the invasions are yet to be rebuilt.

Within Sosian Ranch, Chali and Romeo hotels were burnt down and still lie in ruins.

Non-residents

“It has been a slow process, but currently, visitors are trickling in, although we have not had non-residents since the attacks. We are hoping that non-residents will start coming from June,” said David Macharia, the deputy lodge manager.

However, he said despite the return to normalcy, things would never be the same again.

“I still recall the tension, the insecurity, even the day they killed Voorspuy. It was unsafe even to walk outside of the lodge. Despite the heavy security, every time the dry season sets in, tension resurfaces. But we are hopeful that things will be okay,” Mr Macharia said.

At Ol Maisor Ranch in Rumuruti, the home of Laikipia Farmers Association chairman Martin Evans, life is back to normal. Last year, herders invaded the ranch, killing one worker.

Normal operations

According to Mr Evans, normal operations have resumed on the 29,000-acre farm. The family’s residential house has also been redesigned.

Last April, conservationist Kuki Gallmann was shot and injured by illegal herders who had invaded her 100,000-acre Ol Ari Nyiro Ranch.

Ms Gallmann has since relocated to Nairobi.

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