Hundreds of herders who have in the recent past migrated into Marsabit forest in search of grazing resources have been asked to move out or face eviction.
At the same time, the government has warned armed youth still bent on carrying out the outlawed practice of cattle rustling to abandon it and embrace better ways of earning a living.
County commissioner Paul Rotich said that pleas to the herders to move out of the forest which doubles as a game reserve have not been heeded and as such forceful removal of the invaders would be effected without any further reference to them.
Mr Rotich who spoke after delivering the president’s speech during this year’s Jamhuri day celebrations at Marsabit stadium and attended by Area Governor Mohamud Ali among other leaders, said that the invasion of the forest by herders who had been allowed access to water only has compromised both security and the ecosystem.
The county commissioner said the number of livestock in the game reserve outmatches the carrying capacity of the forest forcing wild animals out of the game park in search of pasture and water causing human-wildlife conflict.
The forest, he said, was now being used as a passage for stolen livestock by armed cattle rustlers from a neighbouring county whom he blamed for rising incidents of livestock raids.
“We as government want to stamp out this menace of stealing livestock once and for all” he said and expressed satisfaction that local communities which were previously at war with each other had buried the hatchet and were now living in harmony.
The county commissioner asked heads of security units headed by County Police Commander Robinson Mboloi to do whatever it takes to rescue the forest which has faced degradation due to felling of trees and over grazing.
He said that his security team was in talks with that from Samburu County on measures to contain highway banditry between Merille and Seriolipi section of the Marsabit -Isiolo highway.
He further advised parents to take their children to school in order to prepare them for a good future as reliance on moranism was no longer tenable.
Mr Rotich asked the youth to go for affordable loans being offered by the government like the hustler fund and Uwezo to enable them venture into trade and agribusiness.
Governor Mohamud Ali told the law enforcement agents not to compromise on security and to firmly deal with culprits.
The governor pointed out that local communities who have for many years been fighting each largely due to incitement had resolved to love one another and to coexist peacefully and that it would be painful to see the gains made being reversed.
Leaders especially Members of the county assembly (MCAs) led by the committee on security Chairman Tura Ruru (North Horr) Christopher Ogom (Kargi) and Jack Elisha (Township) said the local leadership was committed to peace.
They assured the government of their support and urged for deliberate security measures to address the cattle rustling menace which they said had led to loss of lives, impoverished residents and impended on development.
By Sebastian Miriti