Tension is high in Suyian Ranch in Laikipia County after tens of heavily armed Samburu Morans invaded the ranch prompting a fierce gun battle with security officers.
During the clash, one moran was shot dead while tourist lodge was razed down on Sunday night.
Police officers led by Laikipia West Divisional Commander Melengo Morehai carried out an overnight operation to restore harmony but the body of the slain warrior is yet to be recovered.
Police were alerted of the invasion by Gilfred Powys, a European national believed to be one of the Suyian Conservancy proprietors. The killing of the moran sparked off violent reaction by the locals who stormed into the conservancy.
“Tension is till high in the area. The herders are forcing their way into the farms and protected wildlife areas. The problem is they are heavily armed. Some have sophisticated weapons than security officers.” One of the officers lamented.
The five security officers keeping vigil were overwhelmed by the attackers who later engaged in a looting spree. They later forced in huge herds of cattle.
The horrific incidents occurred even as visitors were promptly evacuated from the facility. This is the third tourist lodge in Laikipia to be closed in January after a Pokot invasion forced the closure of two lodges in the Mugie conservancy earlier this month.
Less than a fortnight ago, President Uhuru Kenyatta told herders to keep off ranches but assured the pastoral communities the government will buy off the livestock in a destocking programme to shield them from further loses occasioned by the prolonged drought.
Most of the conservancies in Laikipia combine cattle ranching, tourism and wild conservation.
People invading Laikipia’s conservancies have, in recent months, attacked and killed hundreds of wild animals which are among Kenya’s protected species.
The county is the last stronghold of wildlife outside Kenya’s national parks and reserves, and is home to 6,000 elephants and other animals including lions and the rare Grevy’s zebra.