In Summary
  • The deployment came after reports that a group of armed youth (morans) in the forest was ganging up against Kenya Forest Service (KFS) officers taking part in the exercise.
  • Late last year, Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko issued a 30-day notice for illegal occupants to willingly vacate the forest or face forceful evictions.
  • After the notice expired on January 30, the government extended extended it to April 1 and then started the forceful evictions.

A contingent of police officers has been deployed to Kirisia Forest in Samburu County amid resistance from squatters in the ongoing forceful evictions.

The group of officers from the General Service Unit (GSU) Kenya Wild Service (KWS), Kenya Prisons Service, the Forest Inspection Unit and regular police arrived on Thursday in areas marked for evictions.

The deployment came after reports that a group of armed youth (morans) in the forest was ganging up against Kenya Forest Service (KFS) officers taking part in the exercise.

Last week, a KFS chief inspector narrowly escaped death when a group of Samburu morans attacked him while on duty.

BACKUP

The county's Ecosystem Conservator Charles Ochieng confirmed that the officers had joined their counterparts from the KFS in evicting squatters from areas where resistance has been experienced.

“We have received backup. The officers will conduct patrols where evictions have taken place to ward off any attempts of resettling in the forest," he said, noting some squatters had threatened forest rangers.

"Other officers will stop any kind of resistance from areas where we intend to evict people to ensure law and order."

EXTENSION

Late last year, Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko issued a 30-day notice for illegal occupants to willingly vacate the forest or face forceful evictions.

After the notice expired on January 30, the government extended extended it to April 1 and then started the forceful evictions.

“CS Tobiko gave them a window during which to move in a humane way. A huge percentage moved," Mr Ochieng said, placing the figure at 90 per cent of the settlers.

He said the 10 per cent still in the forest were engaging in illegal activities in the forest believed to be the biggest water catchment area in the North Rift.

Mr Ochieng said the encroachers were cutting trees carelessly and burning charcoal for sale in black markets.

SPECIAL TREES

The types of trees under threat in Kirisia Forest red cedar and the rare sandalwood.

"Those in the forest are degrading it because many trees are cut and burnt for charcoal. Others, such as 1---year-old red cedars, are being cut and sold as building posts," he said.

On Saturday, the squatters uprooted over 10,000 seedlings that CS Tobiko planted.