We have lost over Sh20m to illegal grazers, says rancher

Kuki Gallmann feeds a bird in her Laikipia home in this undated photo posted on Facebook on 23rd April 2017.

Pre-election and election years spell doom for ranchers in Laikipia. With less than a year to the August 9 poll, the region has witnessed a spate of insecurity, with nine people killed and hundreds of livestock stolen over the past two months. Laikipia Nature and Conservancy is one of the most affected after illegal grazers invaded the vast ranch. The illegal grazers are believed to be from Baringo, Isiolo and Samburu counties.

The management of the conservancy spoke to The Standard over their predicament following the invasion.

One of the directors of the ranch Syveva Gallman said they have lost property worth over Sh20 million to the herders.

Ms Gallman said the illegal grazers have destroyed half of the electric fence around the 88,000-hectare land in Laikipia West.

This has resulted in animals moving out of the ranch and destroying crops.

The invaders have also burnt properties in the ranch, including a school built to benefit residents and an avocado project. Land of Hope Academy, which hosted 40 children, is yet to be reopened after parents withdrew their children.

Gallman claimed that this always happens whenever an election nears.

“We have been witnessing this whenever there is an election. But this is one of the worst cases we have witnessed,” said Gallman, the daughter of conservationist and author Kuki Gallman.

Despite an operation ordered by the government, she claimed that over 15,000 livestock were still roaming the ranch.

She regretted that herders were grazing there with impunity despite the heavy presence of security officers.

“We have seen the governments arm but the illegal grazers are still here. More action must be taken for them to leave the private farms,” she said. She regretted that more people were getting killed or injured during the attacks.

“My mother is one of the dozens of community members who have been wounded in recent months in Laikipia West. My 78-year-old mother was shot through the leg in May 2021 by cattle raiders while she was driving alone near Ol Moran. I am still nursing her back to health,” she said.

“Armed bandits from Baringo County are a constant threat to life and property in this area.”

“In pre-election years such as this, hundreds of armed men invade the area and terrorise residents. They are politically incited, and their aim is to drive away local inhabitants,” Gallman observed.

She noted that the conservancy was purchased from a Kenyan company in 1972, with leases that run for many decades.

“The conservancy looks forward to the eviction of the remaining herders so that we can resume our normal activities.”

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