Kenya: Laikipia leaders push for grazing deals as ranch invasions persist
Laikipia County leaders have called on pastoralists to stop invading private property and consider entering into grazing deals with pastoralists, as cases of crime escalate.
Herders have started to evacuate thousands of tourists from their lodges for fear of attack.
Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi, Laikipia Nord MP Sarah Lekorere and former Speaker of the National Assembly Francis ole Kaparo said pastoralists and pastoralists should instead enter into emergency grazing agreements to reduce fodder deficits , conflict and loss of livestock.
Governor Muriithi said such agreements will help reduce conflicts between conservatories and pastoral communities, thus preventing loss of property.
“Instead of invading private property and causing gratuitous destruction, ranchers should make arrangements with ranchers on how and where to graze their animals. With a grazing agreement in place, issues such as ‘illegal breeding will be easily dealt with,’ the county chief said.
He noted that for many years pastoralists and small farmers have watched helplessly as shepherds lead thousands of animals to their ranches in search of pasture and water.
The majority of the ranches have been reduced to bare land, he said.
But Ms Lekorere said only pastoralists in Laikipia should enter into grazing agreements with pastoralists.
The agreements will cover the movement of livestock on particular portions of land, rights of access and protection of limited resources on the ranches.
“Laikipia ranches and conservatories cannot hold cattle from neighboring Samburu, Baringo, Isiolo and West Pokot counties. The government should make sure they stay in their counties and stop invading private property in Laikipia, ”she said.
Ms Lekorere and other leaders spoke at the opening of Naibor Amani Primary School in Kirimon, an occasion which West Pokot Governor John Lunyangapou also attended.
She called on the governors of pastoral counties to prioritize the rehabilitation of rangelands.
Speaking at the same event, Mr Ole Kaparo and Loisaba Conservancy director Tom Sylvester said pastoralists are willing and ready to make grazing deals with pastoralists to help restore sanity in an area reeling from the invasions of illegal breeders.
The Nation has established that the management of Loisaba had talks Monday morning to decide whether to evacuate the guests from the lodge.
“They (the shepherds) threatened to burn down our main lodge which is full of tourists. We held an emergency meeting to discuss whether or not to evacuate our guests,” a senior ranch official said.
The government’s warning
Meanwhile, the government has ordered illegal migrant pastoralists from Laikipia to return to their counties.
As a sign that the government will step up the crackdown on illegal herders, West Laikipia County deputy commissioner Hezron Nyamberi said security officials will not allow herders to invade and destroy private property.
“Private property must be respected. Anyone who defies this will be subject to the full force of the law,” Nyamberi warned when addressing the residents of Kirimon.
Pastoralists and small farmers who attended a safety meeting in Nanyuki on Thursday said government agencies appeared “passive and powerless”.
“We are aware that Laikipia is simply on the outskirts of a deteriorating security that stretches from Marsabit – where things are bad – to Moyale and of course northeast of Mandera. The government needs to take control.” said Lucy Jennings of Jennings Farm. .
Herders, especially in Samburu, Isiolo and Baringo counties, have moved their animals to private property, leaving traces of destruction.
Some of the most affected ranches include Jennings Farm, Laikipia Nature Conservancy, Mugie, Ol Maisor, Loisaba and Suiyan.
The Woragus farm in Rumuruti has lost thousands of acres of food crops such as wheat and corn, all valued at 20 million shillings, after up to 5,000 cattle invaded the farm over the weekend.