Armed herdsmen attack Kenyan tourist camps

Unrest in northern Kenya has spread to cattle ranches that support sustainable wildlife tourist camps.
Armed herdsmen have been marauding through this region in their 1,000s, burning property, shooting at farmers and tourists, raiding cattle and slaughtering elephant and zebra.
The government appears unable to contain the unrest. Over the last year hundreds of small holders have abandoned their land. Among them George Mwai, who is confined to a wheel chair since being shot trying to defend his medium sized cattle ranch and wildlife farm. 
Now the land grabs have spread to long established wildlife ‘conservancies’, where ranchers combine raising cattle with tourism and wildlife conservation.
On Sunday night a tourist camp run by a respected botanist, Anne Powys, was razed to the ground. It has been reported some 10,000 tribal herdsmen descended on the exclusive bush camp known as Suyian Soul.
Guests staying at the thatched camp report seeing the armed men attack an elephant herd as they descended. Anne, who fled with one guest to her father’s house on the 40,000 acre family ranch, texted her sister shortly afterwards;

‘We are safe. [tribesmen] have lit three places at front of lodge… Sadly may lose my camp’

Anne’s staff remained hidden behind rocks overlooking the camp. They kept in radio contact with her, whispering reports of how the mob swarmed through the eco-camp, looting as they went.
Suyian, which means wild dog in Maa, is named after a wild pack of dogs living in a rocky outcrop above the lodge. It is based on a  ranch in the Laikipia region of northern Kenya. The Powys family have farmed the ranch for more than 100 years.

In recent years Anne, whose books on African flora and the medicinal properties of Kenyan plants have attracted interest worldwide, has promoted the camp as a spiritual haven, offering yoga and holistic healing to those wanting to reconnect with nature. 

Yesterday Anne’s family returned to the partly-burned-out camp where the fires still smouldered. They turned back after spotting the armed raiders looting the site. Anne’s father Gilfrid had managed to salvage a few clothes and Anne’s precious books before they returned. Suyian overlooks a salt lick and boasts one of the largest elephant populations outside Kenya’s official national parks. It is one of many tourist camps based on ‘conservancies’ that have been attacked this month or are at risk of attack. Ranchers report being shot at repeatedly and of their buildings being ransacked and burned. 2-game-drives

“We don’t know where they will attack next but we’ve been packing an emergency bag in case we have to leave,” said one farmer. Those in the path of the armed gang include a nearby rhino sanctuary.

Despite a public plea  by Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta for the raids to stop, little has happened. Known as ‘land grabs’, these attacks have mainly been carried out by Samburu and Pokot tribesmen from the far north of Kenya where a drought has led to a severe lack of grazing.
Reports in the Kenyan newspaper The Star suggest the attacks are being encouraged by local politicians hoping to boost their vote in Kenya’s elections later this year. They point to the way the raids appear to be organised and claim that the tribesmen are armed with military issue guns.
The land owners have appealed to the tribal elders to offer them free grazing until the drought subsides in return for an end to the killing. One concerned land owner said she was afraid the herdsmen ‘no longer listened to the elders”.

About laralambertwrites

A freelance journalist with an interest in nature, wildlife and family.
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7 Responses to Armed herdsmen attack Kenyan tourist camps

  1. Delua Perrett says:

    This is extremely sad news. I dont know the area but feel for the people who have tried to make the area a better place, care for wild life and plants as well as farm and domestic animals.
    My nephew is in the area and my brother not far away. May all stay safe as possible. How do you hold politically corrupt polititions to accpunt in Africa?

    • Family Mash says:

      Thank you. I hope your brother and nephew are safe. I believe the government has now responded. Let us hope a peaceful solution can be found.

  2. Pingback: Problemen in Noord Kenya | Avonturen in Afrika

  3. Reblogged this on ATC News by Wolfgang H. Thome and commented:
    A harrowing tale of the attack on the Suyian safari camp … I have been asked to ‘downplay’ this because there is now some government reaction but truth told, this needs to be made public to show the potentially devastating consequences of such farm, ranch and conservancy invasions to Kenya’s tourism industry, and worst of all, at the start of an election year which is already causing concerns among leading overseas tour operators.
    The Kenyan government needs to react much stronger, with much greater determination to stamp out this menace and nip it in the bud before it spreads like wildfire to other conservancies, ranches and farms.

    • Family Mash says:

      Thank you for your honesty and bravery in sharing. This story needs to be told if there is to be hope for sustainable wildlife conservation in Kenya. It is very good news, however, that the government is now responding. Let’s hope a peaceful solution can be found that meets the needs of both ranchers and cattle herders.

  4. Jandar says:

    In my book these people – AND those who put them up to it – have turned their backs on law and order and civilisation, and embraced anarchy, savagery and barbarism. All talk of understanding, holding talks, round tables etc etc ad nauseam completely misses the point. You cannot negotiate with anyone who has embraced anarchy by choice or otherwise. These people have invaded innocent peoples lands, killed and plundered and burnt, and by any other name this is a declaration of war ! and should be countered as such. The only appropriate response is with immediate overwhelming military force, flatten it out one time, and then no more troubles for generations to come, – but oh yes, for a moment I forgot, perhaps in this age its not PC to say these things…but then maybe it is..?

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