Extension of ranches led to destruction of water tower

Monday, October 4th, 2021 00:00 | By
Former Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya. PHOTO/COURTESY

Had it not been for extension of boundaries of five group ranches which bordered Maasai Mau, the controversial settlements inside the forest would not have happened.

An estimate based on remote sensing, which was carried out by the United Nations Environmental Programme, (UNEP) three years ago, indicate that because of years of destruction, the entire Mau forest cover was at critical 1.7 per cent.

Between 1973 and 1986, the report said 14,278 hectares of the total 46,000-hectare Maasai Mau was destroyed.

The entire 427,000 hectare Mau Complex was gazetted as a forest reserve in 1954.

Illegal extension of group ranches in 1997 created 1,962 parcels of land amounting to about 14,103.7 hectares.

The extension, which aided massive encroachment, then stood at about 20,000 hectares after further amends were done after 1997 to accommodate more people.

Prominent family

Sisian, Enainkishomi, Reiyo, Enoosogon and Enkaroni were the ranches whose boundaries ballooned about ten times.

Among the sub plots was Narok/Cismara section 374 whose area was 6.28 hectares that was sub divided into 45 parcels.

“Because of overlap surveying, the total area plot was enlarged from 6.28 hectares to 101.28 hectares,” said Francis Nkako, a former member of the Mau Forest Steering Committee which was appointed by then Prime Minister Raila Odinga to establish the forest boundaries.

Sierra Leone, a controversial settlement where a prominent Narok family acquired thousands of acres and later sold to soldiers who were returning from the United Nations peace keeping mission in the West African country, falls under section 374.

Hectares of Enoosogon ranch in Olmekenyu area was increased from 155 hectares to 653 hectares. Enainkishomi increased from 1,748 hectares to 9,748.5 hectares, a nine fold increase.

Reiyo was controversially increased deep into the forest which was then a trust land under the then  Narok County Council, from 26 hectares to 878.6 hectares.

Before the evictions two years ago, the then Narok County Commissioner George Natembeya complained that the recovery process had been politicised.

“The cutline they have made a big issue about, separates Maasai Mau and Olpusimoru Forest Reserve.

It doesn’t mean that those who are not near the demarcation line but still in the forest haven’t encroached,” he said.

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