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 Star (Kenya) - - Counties - BOB MURIUKI @BobWam­bui

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.

/BOB MURIUKI

Men from var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties com­pete in a tug-of-war dur­ing Laikipia High­land games in Laikipia County over the week­end.

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