In Summary
  • Pressure on the Maasai Mau would again pile up in 1999 when five group ranches adjacent to the forest applied for consent from the local land control board to subdivide their land among members.

  • After the consent was issued, government officers, politicians, private surveyors and influential people irregularly increased the sizes of the group ranches far in excess of their registered areas and sold it to unsuspecting outsiders.

A bid to end the destruction of the Maasai Mau – a part of the largest single block of close-canopy forest in East Africa and today the site of an unfolding humanitarian crisis – opened it for further plunder, a review of one of the most comprehensive reports on the ecosystem shows.

FRAUDULENTLY

According to the document titled ‘Maasai Mau Forest Status Report’, the destruction of some 14,805 hectares (on average 1,139 hectares per year) of forest cover outside the Maasai Mau between 1973 and 1986 prompted the establishment of the Ntutu Commission to set the boundaries and help conserve the forest. The commission recommended the reclamation of Ol Posimoru A, Kamrar, Olokurto, Nkareta and Naisoya adjudication sections of the trust land, which temporarily slowed the destruction. However, pressure on the Maasai Mau would again pile up in 1999 when five group ranches adjacent to the forest applied for consent from the local land control board to subdivide their land among members.

After the consent was issued, government officers, politicians, private surveyors and influential people irregularly increased the sizes of the group ranches far in excess of their registered areas and sold it to unsuspecting outsiders.

By 2005, illegal extension into the forest due to expansion of group ranches had created 1,962 parcels of land, amounting to 14,103.7 hectares of the forest, reads the document authored by the Ewaso Ngiro South Development Authority, Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forests Working Group and United Nations Environment Programme.

In total, while the registered land was 3,975.5 hectares, another 14,103.7 was fraudulently annexed. Forest destruction within the boundaries increased exponentially from less than 40 hectares a year before 1995, to 1,755 between 2003 and 2005.

VIOLATION

There was a temporary lull after the 2005 and 2009 evictions, but the destruction would resume with abandon in subsequent years. And while the annihilation has not been documented, more forest cover has been lost, with aerial photos of the once thick canopy painting a pale shadow of its lost lustre.

The report insists the encroachment on the Maasai Mau did not follow the ideal adjudication procedure. “For instance, no resolution to give away the forest land was made by the (defunct) Narok County Council as required by law. The title deeds in the Maasai Mau are not genuine because they were not subjected to land adjudication process,” the report concludes.

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