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September 25, 2017

British father of two shot dead at Sosian ranch in Laikipia

A file photo of British rancher Tristan Voorspuy who was shot dead in Laikipia Photo/Courtesy
A file photo of British rancher Tristan Voorspuy who was shot dead in Laikipia Photo/Courtesy

A British man was shot dead on Sunday at a private ranch in the Laikipia area, two of the man's neighbours said, and a legislator warned that local politicians were stoking violence as elections approach.

Invaders on Sosian ranch shot dead the co-owner Tristan Voorspuy on Sunday, according to multiple Laikipia sources.

Voorspuy was the majority shareholder and founder of Sosian conservancy which 15 years ago had become a degraded and almost worthless ranch .Voorspuy returned from Tanzania on Saturday and flew up to Sosian.

The three houses that were burned by armed herders who invaded Sosian Ranch on Thursday and later on Friday, March 3, 2017. /COURTESY

At around midday he decided to visit one of the three houses that were burned down on Friday. The house is five kilometres from the main lodge at Sosian.

He rode there on horseback in the morning but farm staff lost contact with him at noon.

A helicopter flying overhead saw a horse that had been shot dead at 2pm. Later a tracker from the conservancy found his body nearby. However, his body has not yet been recovered because of the insecurity in the vicinity.

A heavily armed militia of Pokot and Samburu are holed up on the hillside above the house where he was shot dead.

Voorspuy is a long-term resident of Kenya who made his living by organising riding safaris.

There have been numerous attacks in the drought-stricken region of Laikipia in recent months as armed cattle herders searching for scarce grazing have driven tens of thousands of cattle onto private farms and ranches. At least a dozen people have been killed.

Voorspuy, a father of two and a British cavalry veteran also ran a company called Offbeat Safaris.

"He rode out to look at what was left of Richard's house. He never came back. We flew over the area to look for him ... the horse had been shot in the leg," the neighbour said.

"He (Voorspuy) was dead in front of the house."

The British High Commission did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Sarah Korere, a member of parliament for Laikipia North, said the violent land invasions are being stoked by politicians seeking votes from particular ethnic blocs in national elections scheduled for August.

"Some guys will be in a hurry to displace certain communities so they don't vote. We can say the violence is going to get worse," she told Reuters. "Some politicians are using this issue of land to woo the voters."

Korere and the two residents said the government had to act quickly to stop the violence worsening.

After 15 foreign tourists were evacuated from Laikipia by helicopter in February because of the herders invading ranches and conservancies in the area, hundreds of heavily armed riot police were sent to the area.

But it was not enough, one of the neighbours said.

"Residents are regularly shot at by people who are invading farms or raiding cattle or forming what seems to be a militia," he said. "We've been expecting this."

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