Logoman Forest off-limits to end ethnic clashes

Natembeya to deploy at least 300 rangers while he plans for police reinforcement

In Summary

• Several groups fighting inside the forest, including Maasai and Kipsigis.

• All have been banned, including Ogieks who gather honey and sell their land, creating tension.

Rift regional coordinator George Natembeya directing Kenya Forest Service officials to immediately deploy 300 rangers to Logoman Forest.
OFF-LIMITS: Rift regional coordinator George Natembeya directing Kenya Forest Service officials to immediately deploy 300 rangers to Logoman Forest.

Logoman Forest, a bloody communal battlefield, is off-limits until further notice.

Rift Valley Regional Coordinator George Natembeya on Monday declared the forest a no-go zone as the major communities in Narok and Nakuru have been fighting there for years and violence has escalated.

“From today, we will not allow anybody to enter the Logoman Forest for any activity. No grazing, fetching firewood, planting crops. Even the Ogiek looking for honey are not allowed in this forest," he said.

Natembeya was addressing a peace meeting of religious leaders, administrative officials, elected leaders and community leaders from the two counties in Witemere in Njoro subcounty.

"With immediate effect, all Kenya Forest Service rangers idling in various camps are to be deployed in this forest to ensure nobody is found inside,” he ordered.

He warned all the communities, saying the Kipsigis have lands in their settlement schemes, the Ogiek practise farming while the Maasai have their own ranges.

“We all know the Kipsigis legal settlement schemes around here, and that the Ogiek of today do farming but have been selling their lands, then claiming their homes were in forest. Also, the Maasai should restrict their activities to expansive ranges but not forest land," he said

Narok resident Joseph Kishoiyan had told the gathering that four communities living around the Logoman Forest have been getting grass, water, and dead logs for firewood from the forest. He said conflicts were caused by those idling in the forest.

Natembeya, who was accompanied by all security bosses from the Rift, said the two main warring communities were both thieves scrambling for government resources in the forest.

"When they met inside our forests, the Kalenjins were stealing posts while the Maasais were illegally burning charcoal and each complains that his land has been invaded. So we want to keep all of them away,” he said.

Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui said peace remains the key to economic development and should be pursued by everyone. He said it was unfortunate many people have lost lives and properties in the recent ethnic clashes at the border of the two counties where cattle rustling takes place.

"We will all live here and no community will leave. We should therefore, learn to co-exist," he said

MP Charity Kathambi (Njoro), Moitalel Kenta (Narok North), Nakuru Deputy Governor Erick Korir and other leaders were present.

Also present were Rift regional police commissioner Marcus Ochola, Michael Njau of the Regional Critical Infrastructure Police Unit, Paul Wachira, the regional DCI coordinator, and John Njenga of Le ya Forest Service.

Barely a month ago, livestock theft sparked ethnic fighting between the two major communities in Narok, leaving more than nine people dead.

Several houses were torched and many people injured in Olposimoru and Narok South areas. It was reported that more than 10,000 arrows and 200 bows were confiscated.

(Edited by V. Graham)