Pastoralists could end up the biggest losers in the current invasions of Laikipia conservancies.
In the last five months, about 10,000 armed pastoralists from Baringo, Isiolo and Samburu, with around 135,000 cattle, have invaded Laikipia, destroying property and killing wildlife.
There was a further escalation of the invasions yesterday. Suyian has been flooded with cattle flooding inwards from Kifuku farm and Mugie conservancy. ‘They will concentrate, devour all the grass, then hit the next ranches - either Sosian or Ol Maisor,” said a local resident.
There are fears the invasions may lead to the collapse of some of the ranches and plunge the region into chaos.
Community leaders recounted how security provided by the conservancies has over the years fostered peace over large swathes of the restive northern Kenya. The experts spoke on Wednesday at Nairobi Museum. This has ended cattle rustling, enabling herders to settle and engage in other economic activities. “Security through the conservancies has given people in Isiolo and northern Kenya the peace to engage in other economic activities. Without this they cannot build their lives,” said Dickson Kaelo, head of the Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association.
This was also affirmed by head of Ol Pejeta Conservancy Ian Craig.
Ol Pejeta hosts most of the endangered Grevy’s Zebra and has not been affected by the invasions. Kaelo said group conservancies are a way for communities to secure their land rights.Conservationist Judy-Kepher Gona said poor communities neighbouring parks should get friendly funding that gets them off their feet.
“It is true tourism brings more sustained income but the recent household survey showed livestock remains the top income earner for households. Herders get 30 per cent from tourism and the rest from livestock,” she said.