Laikipia games end with calls to end poaching and grazing
Youths urged to be active in environmental conservation. Pastoralists told to sell excess livestock, ensure Kenya does not spend hard currency on meat import
The annual intercommunity games held at the Laikipia Nature Conservancy on Saturday ended with a renewed call to stop poachers and illegal grazers from trespassing on private farms.
The event, which was attended by several foreign envoys, attracted participation from the Samburus, Pokots, Kikuyus, Kalenjins, Ilchamus, Boranas and Turkanas.
Conservancy director Kuki Gallmann urged young people to assume active roles in environmental conservation. “They should retain their umbilical cord with Mother Earth. It is only the environment that chose human beings. It is the only thing that helps and heals. It puts tribes together and sustains them together in times of conflict and incitement,” she said.
The games were started in 2009 after the 2007-08 post-election violence. In that year, it helped Kenya win a prestigious Sports for Peace Award in Monaco. Illegal grazers encroach on wildlife areas, poach and poison elephants and lions and cause arson.
“A dead elephant does not add value to anybody’s life. The absurdity is Kenya is an importer of meat, yet we have an excess of livestock,” Gallmann said.
She urged pastoralists to sell excess livestock and ensure Kenya does not spend its hard currency to import meat. Commenting on a controversial road proposed to run through the conservancy, Gallmann said unchecked traffic on the new road will only mean banditry, the end of peace, more cattle rustling and movement of illegal weapons.
“I would suggest we focus on improving the existing road network, rather than embarking on another project that that we shall not even accomplish in time,” she said.
“Promising people something on somebody else’s land is costly and absurd. Having lost 45,000 hectares of biodiversity to arson, we are not going to stand and let it happen again.”
Gallmann said an election pledge should not undermine the sanctity of private land.
The Gallmann Memorial Foundation that owns the conservancy has built three dispensaries in Laikipia county and given scholarships.
The envoys present during the occasion were Israeli Ambassador to Kenya Yahel Vilain and his Switzerland and Ireland counterparts Vincent O’Neill and Ralf Heckner, respectively.
The event also marked the 23rd anniversary of Gallmann’s son Emmanuelle Gallmann, who died of a snakebite.
Men from various communities compete in a tug-of-war during Laikipia Highland games in Laikipia County over the weekend.