Arrival of hundreds of poor tribesmen seeking grazing lands for their cattles has triggered outbreak of violence in Laikipia
Early one morning last week, Richard Constant drove across the 24,000 -acre ranch that he part-owns on a high plateau in center Kenya to detected what remained of his home.
In March, Constants friend and business associate Tristan Voorspuy, a British legion policeman grew safari operator, had been shot dead on his horse while inspecting the damage caused by armed herders who had driven tens of thousands of cattle on to the ranch.
Constant, a 62 -year-old Yorkshireman, arrived as the days first lights of sunshine fell on the ground. He heard distant gunshots, a reminder that the deadly unrest that has pitted major landowners, local smallholders and security forces against armed cattle herders for more than 3 month was far away from over.
He found his home in ruins, burned to the ground.
I looked at my house and seemed sad that Kenya, which I regard as home, has got into such a state, he articulated. But a house is also possible rebuilt. I cant get my friend back , nor the two security guards who were shot on the neighbouring ranch.
The violence in Laikipia, one of the most spectacularly beautiful the sectors of Kenya, was triggered by the arrival of hundreds of poor tribesmen from drought-hit parts searching for grazing lands for their cattles.
Boris Johnson expressed concern about the unrest during a piloting visit in March. The foreign secretary said the causes of the unrest were complex. This was an understatement.
Once known simply to a few, Laikipias profile was boosted when Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton at a log cabin there in 2010. Tens of millions of tourists had now been travelled to the areas ranches and stockpiles. Now the lucrative industry, and the livelihoods of thousands of local people, are threatened. British officials, amongst other, have called on the Kenyan government to restore the rule of law.
Estimates of the number of people killed in the violence so far range from 25 to 50, with many more wounded. One of the most high-profile of the injured is Kuki Gallmann, a best-selling author whose journal I Dream of Africa was constructed into a film starring Kim Basinger. Gallmann, 73, was shot by herders on her 150 -sq mile property in late April.
But although international media attention has focused on Gallmann and Voorspuy, the great majority of the dead have been Kenyan farmers. An unknown number of the tribesmen who illegally drove tens of thousands of cattle on to privately owned manors have also been killed in clashes with security forces.
There have long been strains over ground and grazing of the states of the region. About a third of the ground in Laikipia county is owned by private ranchers who mix cattles engendering with high-end tourism. Many of the owners of the most difficult properties are white. Some have been farming locally for many generations. Others are more recent reachings or, in some instances, live overseas in Europe or the US. Neighbourhood herders from the Maasai tribe have been allowed to graze cattles on parts of these immense manors when times are tough, a practice that has, until now, maintained strains to a minimum.
Farmers and officials say the current situation is unprecedented. We represent one of the first properties to be taken over. At its crest there used to be 50,000 head of cattle[ on the ranch ]. They moved on after about a month, but there was a lot of damage to property and the wildlife suffered hugely, articulated Josh Perrett, a director on Mugie ranch.
Across the region dozens of elephants have been killed and their tusks removed, as well as millions of buffaloes, antelopes and other game. Centuries-old trees have been cut down for firewood or fodder.
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