• The operation is aimed at ending banditry and bloodletting between the Kambas and armed Somali herders
• A GSU camp has been set up and KWS personnel deployed to police the National Reserve
South Kitui National Reserve has been declared a no-go-zone for settlement and camel herding.
Kitui County Commissioner John Odengo made the declaration after Tana River governor Dhadho Gaddae Godhana said he would help settlers whose shanties and homes had been flattened to rebuild them.
Odengo said any attempt to do so will be met with the full force of the law.
“We have set up a GSU camp in the reserve and we have restored the manning of the game reserve by Kenya Wildlife Service personnel. Illegal settlers, armed camel herders and bandits are persona non-grata,” the administrator said.
On Sunday, 46 people from Tana River attempted to return to the reserve. They were arrested alongside 10 enforcement officers and prosecuted at the Mutomo law courts for violating the KWS Act.
Odengo was on Thursday updating journalists on the progress of a month-long security operation to flush out illegal settlers and camel herders from the game reserve.
The operation started after an uproar from Kitui leaders following the killing of locals by armed camel herders. Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu led the protestors to a meeting with Interior CS Fred Matiang’i.
“The operation was humane. We even offered transport for the evictees to their original homeland. No force or violence was used and no one was hurt or injured,” Odengo said.
The operation is aimed at ending banditry and bloodletting between the Kambas and armed Somali herders from Tana River and North-Eastern counties.
“We are not sparing anyone. We have asked the Kambas settled in the game reserve to get out. We have also ordered the closure of Kyeni Primary School. Learners will be relocated to other schools,” the administrator said.
With the armed intruders flushed out of the game reserve, it was up to Governor Ngilu and her administration to act fast and implement the Reserve Management Plan in partnership with KWS.
“In order to have a lasting solution to the insecurity problem and ward off the encroachment by armed camel herders, the Kitui county government should operationalise the National Reserve and restore wildlife. Game rangers need to be recruited and trained to effectively man the reserve,” he said.