The process of fencing the Maasai Mau Forest is 50 per cent complete according to the Narok South Sub-County Deputy County Commissioner (DCC) Felix Kisalu.
Kisalu said the government targets to fence 30 kilometers from Kibenet area to Triangle area in a bid to protect the great water catchment land from human encroachment and destruction.
He spoke to the press today in his office where he said the exercise being undertaken by the department of Forest began two months ago and is expected to be complete in four months’ time.
“Already they have fixed posts in 15 kilometers distance since the exercise began two months ago. They are in the process of clearing the bush and digging holes to fix posts in the remaining 15 kilometers,” said the DCC.
After fence is erected, Kisalu said no individual will be able to enter the forest land hence it will regenerate naturally, free from any human interference.
At the same time, the DCC lauded residents for supporting the project and giving their input whenever they are asked to help.
“At first, the people were resistant. They did not want the forestland fenced because they had high hopes of going back to the forest land. However, after several sensitization forums, the residents living around the forest accepted and are now key in helping to fence the forest land,” he said.
Maasai Mau, one of the 22 forest blocks forming the Mau Forest Complex, had been extensively impacted by illegal settlements, after ballooning of five adjacent group ranches during land sub-division.
In the year 2018, the government launched operations to evict people from the forest to reclaim the forest that was slowly diminishing.
During the first phase of the eviction in July 2018, about 7,700 people were evicted from the forestland which saw over 12,000 acres of the forest reclaimed.
Security forces demolished homes and social amenities, including schools, churches and health clinics, rendering many people destitute during evictions.
In the second phase conducted in the year 2019, the 3,300 families living in the Maasai Mau moved out voluntarily after the government gave a 60-day eviction notice recovering a total of 35, 000 acres of forest land.
The first phase was centered in Reiya Group Ranch while the second phase had Nkoben, Ilmotiok and Ololunga on the radar.
Mau Forest Complex, the largest water catchment area in Kenya consists of 22 blocks covering more than 400,000 hectares and extends through several counties including Narok County.
By Ann Salaton