KENYA TOURISM INDUSTRY STATEMENT ON SOSIAN INCIDENT OF 5TH MARCH 2017

A statement from the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) and Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF)

The tourism fraternity in Kenya deeply regrets to learn of the death of Tristan Voorspuy, a co-owner of Sosian Ranch and owner of Offbeat Safaris who was killed at Sosian Ranch on Sunday 5th March 2017 by unknown assailants who had trespassed onto the ranch apparently with groups of herdsmen seeking grazing for their livestock.

On behalf of all industry stakeholders we extend our condolences and sympathy to the family of Mr Voorspuy and to the other Kenyan farmers and ranch employees who have been caught up in the conflict over pasture in the affected area in recent weeks.

Sosian Ranch is one of the private ranches in northern Laikipia hosting a vibrant population of wildlife. During this year’s drought-like conditions, they are one of 7 ranches that have been invaded by hungry livestock and pastoralists.

Following the incident, we would like to clarify the following:

  • The incident took place at Sosian Ranch, a 24,000 acre private ranch dedicated to cattle ranching and tourism in the Laikipia area of northern Kenya, 240 kilometres from Nairobi
  • No tourists were involved in the incident and there were no tourists staying on the ranch at the time of the incident
  • Laikipia is one of 47 counties within Kenya and over 9,000 square kilometres in size. It is well-known for its excellent wildlife and ecotourism facilities. Laikipia’s wildlife is second only to the Maasai Mara
  • The present unrest and insecurity are restricted to a few localities and a small number of ranches and that the well-known wildlife conservancies and tourism facilities in the rest of Laikipia are not affected and remain calm and peaceful

Kenya covers an area of approximately 582,650 square kilometres and is frequently compared to an area the size of France. Tourism activity continues as normal in most of Laikipia and throughout the rest of the country with holiday-makers currently on safari in the country’s national parks and visiting its popular coastal resorts.

The Tourism Industry continues to maintain very close contact with the stakeholders in Laikipia and a fact finding trip to Laikipia was earlier carried out by Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) and Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF) industry executives to assess the situation on the ground. We fully support the investigations being carried out by the police and other relevant authorities to bring the perpetrators of these lawless acts to justice.

We believe that the Government of Kenya will be giving the highest priority to restoring law and order for all the people in the affected area so that they can enjoy the normal peace and security found throughout the rest of Laikipia county.

JIMI KARIUKI
CHAIRMAN
KENYA TOURISM BOARD (KTB)

LUCY KARUME
CHAIRPERSON
KENYA TOURISM FEDERATION (KTF)

6th March 2017 – Update

Yesterdays news of the murder of one of the directors on Sosian Ranch has shocked us all.  Our condolences are extended to his family and friends.

The situation on Sosian has become more severe after a police operation last week failed to remove the pastoralists illegally occupying the ranch.

Further meetings are scheduled this week to try and resolve the current security concerns in northwestern Laikipia.

Currently Ol Pejeta Conservancy remains unaffected and is operating normally.

4th March 2017 – Update

Since yesterday’s update a major police operation has commenced on Sosian to remove pastoralist groups occupying that property.  Unfortunately this operation led to further vandalism including the burning of 3 director’s houses on the property.  It is hoped by all of us that the ongoing operation is completed as quickly as possible to restore a sense of normalcy in north and western Laikipia.

3rd March 2017 – Update

The situation in western and northern Laikipia remains tense with pastoralists still in occupation of Sosian, Suyian, Ol Maisor and parts of the Laikipia Nature Conservancy. However the Kenya Police have commenced a major operation to restore order in these areas. This operation is ongoing as of today’s date.

In the meantime Ol Pejeta Conservancy remains unaffected. We are continuing to support local pastoralist communities living around us with grazing access for cows with calves to permit recovery when the current dry period is over. We are also working closely with the National Drought Management Authority and the Laikipia Wildlife Forum to find ways of supporting all our neighboring communities pending the onset of the long rains which should – hopefully – commence towards the end of March.

A black rhino with its calf on Ol Pejeta.

On a positive note we have had 2 black rhino births in the last month and a good number of females in the population are heavily pregnant meaning that we can expect a significant number of new arrivals as the year progresses.

24th February – Update

The situation in western and northern Laikipia remains tense.  Suyian, Sosian and Mugie remain occupied by pastoralist groups.  There has been some killing of wildlife reported in both Mugie and Sosian.  In other parts of Laikipia pastures remain in short supply; some pastoralist groups are now reportedly moving back to Isiolo and up to Mount Kenya to seek forage for their cattle.

A meeting of local and senior government with landowners and stakeholders on Wednesday resolved to clear all ranches of illegal grazers, with progress to be reviewed again on the 8th March.

Government and the Kenya Wildlife Services have made it clear that incursions into rhino sanctuaries will not be permitted under any circumstances.

Ol Pejeta remains unaffected at the current time.

16th February 2017 – Update

There has been little change since the last update. Mugie and Suyian in northwestern Laikipia remain the 2 worst affected properties. The Laikipia Wildlife Forum (LWF) are now working with the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) on drought mitigation measures and Ol Pejeta will play an active role in supporting these

13th February 2017 – Update

For the last few days there has been little apparent change in the status quo.  Mugie, Laikipia Nature Conservancy and Suyian continue to struggle with massive influxes of pastoralist livestock, albeit without any violence or destruction of property.  The situation on Kifuku Ranch appears to have resolved somewhat, primarily because whatever grass remained has now been finished.  There is increasing evidence that senior government is now applying significant resources to try and resolve the issue.  Over the weekend the Cabinet Secretary for the Environment and the Director General of the Kenya Wildlife Services toured the affected areas.  Furthermore, the police have clearly ramped up efforts to remove the criminal elements that sit behind the search for grass by desperate pastoralists – this is welcome and strongly supported by the Laikipia community, from large land managers through to small scale farmers.

8th February 2017 – Update

A number of ranches in north and west Laikipia including Mugie, Suyian and Kifuku remain fully occupied by pastoralists and their cattle.  Last night, in a very unfortunate incident the OCPD (Officer Commanding Police Division) of Laikipia West was injured in a confrontation with herders on Kifuku.  He will make a full recovery.  However the situation remains tense on that particular ranch even as negotiations begin to bear fruit in other areas.  Ol Pejeta, located to the south of Laikipia, remains unaffected.