•The deployment of residents in safeguarding the forest will provide a sustainable and viable option in preventing vandalism cases.
•Maasai Mau was the most encroached water tower of the 22 blocks of the Mau Forest Complex Water Tower.
The government has recruited 20 community scouts living along the Maasai Mau forest to reinforce security.
This follows incidents where criminals have impeded the ongoing fencing by cutting down erected posts and destroying the barbed wire.
Narok South deputy county commissioner Felix Kisalu said a team from Rapid Deployment Unit, Kenya Water Towers and area chiefs selected the youths.
He said the young men volunteered for the exercise that was conducted at his office grounds and desired to provide 24-hour surveillance in the ongoing works at the forest.
“During the selection, the proximity of the applicant house to the fence was a key requirement as they preferred those living near,” Kisalu said.
“We looked at their previous record in conservation work, ability to convey critical community information to youth and women groups and those with technical knowledge on security issues.”
The administrator said the deployment of residents in safeguarding the forest will provide a sustainable and viable option in preventing vandalism cases.
“Despite the interruptions, the 30-kilometre fencing at the forest land is ongoing smoothly and expected to be completed soon,” Kisalu said.
“Once the fencing exercise is complete, no individual will enter the forestland hence it will regenerate naturally, free from any human interference.”
The Sh8 million project is being supervised by the Kenya Forest Service and undertaken by Kenya Water Towers Authority.
It is expected to be complete by end of the year.
Maasai Mau is one of the 22 blocks forming the Mau Forest complex which had been illegally encroached after expanding five adjacent group ranches during land sub-division.
In 2018 and 2019, the government evicted over 50, 000 people from the Maasai Mau forest reclaiming about 47, 000 acres of land in the first and second eviction phases.
The fence construction started a year after the government launched Sh10 million three-year programme.
It has involved planting 1.5 million tree seedlings and using aerial seeding technology to plant additional seeds.
In 2018, under the Phase one reclamation exercise, 11,119 acres (4,500 hectares) of land was recovered from Kass FM and Kosia areas in Maasai Mau.
The following year, under Phase two, the government recovered 42,157 acres (17,101 hectares) comprising Kamwengoi, Sierra Leone and Kipchoge areas.
The total area under rehabilitation is about 51,892 acres (21,000 hectares).
Maasai Mau was the most encroached water tower of the 22 blocks of the Mau Forest Complex Water Tower.
The Mara-Serengeti Trans boundary ecosystem relies on the Mara River whose origin is the Mau Forest complex.
The largest tributary is the Amalo River that originates from the Maasai Mau Water Tower.
The ecosystem supports wildebeest migration.
The entire Mau Complex Water Tower is a major catchment for 12 major rivers.
They are Sondu, Mara, Nyando, Yala, Ewaso-Ng’iro, Molo, Njoro, Nderit, Makalia, Naishi, Mumberes and Nzoia.
The rivers feed Lakes Turkana, Baringo and Nakuru as well as two transboundary lakes, Natron and Victoria.
The Mau Forest complex spreads across Baringo, Bomet, Kericho, Nakuru, Narok and Uasin Gichu counties.
It comprises 22 blocks, namely Eastern Mau, Western Mau, Transmara, South West Mau, Maasai Mau, Tinderet, Mau Narok, Molo, Eburu, Ol Pusimoru.
Others are West Molo, Southern Mau, Londiani, Mt Loldiani, Kilombe Hill, Maji Mazuri, Timboroa, Lembus, Nabkoi, Metkei, Chemorogok and Northern Tinderet.
Edited by Kiilu Damaris