Sosian Ranch closed down following wave of attacks

Hundreds of cattle belonging to illegal grazers at Sosian Ranch in Laikipia County on March 10,2017.PHOTO:KIPSANG JOSEPH

Sosian Ranch has been closed down indefinitely following months of attacks by armed herders.

In March, gunmen killed the ranch’s co-owner Tristan Voorspuy as he inspected a burnt lodge in the expansive 24,000-acre private property.

For the past one year, the ranch has been among conservancies in the county invaded by armed herders with the attacks scaring away tourists, investors and occasioning job losses.

In a statement, the directors said the invasions had forced them to opt for the painful decision.

“The destruction of three valuable properties and the murder of Tristan Voorspuy can be laid squarely at the door of the political leaders who instigated the Pokot and Samburu invasion,” said Richard Constant, one of the ranch directors.

He said as a business, they called for the confiscation of illegal weapons in the hands of those unlawfully sitting on their property, as well as the arrest of their ring leaders but nothing was done.

Sosian Ranch was bought in 2002 with the aim of creating a functioning cattle ranch, alongside a viable conservancy for highly-rated tourism wildlife.

“Sosian Ranch was running as a successful Laikipian commercial business, paying taxes and creating employment,” said Mr Constant, adding that over 150 workers had been rendered jobless.

Laikipia Farmers Association led by Martin Evans expressed fears that the armed herders seemed not to be in a hurry to vacate their farms any time soon.

“Initially, the herders with their thousands of animals talked of drought as the main reason they were invading the farms. Now it has rained and grass is everywhere but they are reluctant to leave,” said Mr Evans, who owns the 30,000-acre Ol Maisor Ranch.

Mid last year, the herders from as far as Isiolo, Baringo, Pokot, Samburu and Marakwet invaded Suyian, Ol Maisor, ADC Mutara, Laikipia Nature Conservancy, Sosian Ranch among others.

Mr Evans said the farmers have been calling on the Government to restore law and order but the security agencies attempts to rebuff the invaders on a large scale have been unsuccessful.

In April, the herders shot renowned author and conservationist Kuki Gallmann, whose memoir I Dreamed of Africa was turned into a Hollywood film.

 

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