Fears of fresh clashes as herders invade ranches

Herders who invaded Suyian Conservancy in Laikipia in 2017 destroyed property and looted from the lodge. [Courtesy]

Herders have driven hundreds of livestock into private ranches, sparking protests from owners.

Yesterday, security agencies confirmed the presence of livestock in ranches in Rumuruti, Mugie, Laikipia Nature and Conservancy and Suiyan as the herders searched for water and pasture.

County Commissioner Daniel Nyameti said the animals are from the neighbouring Baringo, Samburu and Isiolo counties.

Nyameti said the government was assessing the situation caused by illegal grazers in the area and would move in soon.

“The law is clear, what they have done is illegal and you will see action being taken. The government is there to protect people and their properties,” he said.

The renewed invasion of private ranches by herders has been caused by prolonged drought in the neighbouring counties. Similar invasions about a year ago led to deadly conflicts in the region.

A herder was shot dead when police tried to confiscate his cattle after he invaded one of the ranches in 2020. Lucy Jennings, a ranch owner, yesterday regretted that the animals had destroyed hundreds of acres of her land and some shelters.

She said that the move has now caused tension after attempts to remove the illegal grazers by the ranchers failed.

“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 in my farm where they are now living,” she said.

She noted that the herders had destroyed the poles for an electric fence in order to gain access to her farm.

“My efforts to fence off the land have been affected due to the fact that they have destroyed the poles. They do this in broad daylight,” she said.

The rancher called on the government to order a new operation so that the illegal grazers could be moved out of private ranches.