The owners of a piece of land that neighbours the Maasai Mara Game Reserve in Narok West have decided to plough it as part of protests against alleged mismanagement, posing threats for wildlife.
The group of at least 400 has accused the conservancy’s land management committee of financial mismanagement and not involving them in decision making. It has also complained of poor pay.
Group spokesman Dennis ole Mako said they will therefore till the land, plant maize and wheat and put up electronic fences to block the animals’ migratory corridor.
Should it persist, the dispute will affect 11 camps in the area.
The camps are Elephant Pepper, Kicheche, Offbeat Mara, Rekero Homes, Safaris Unlimited, Serian, Karen Blixen, Mara Plains, Offbeat Safaris, Royal Mara Safari and Saruni.
The conservancy has animals including the big five, gazelles, zebras and topis and is adjacent to the Mara River that separates it from Transmara’s Olisukut Conservancy.
Wildebeests are occasionally seen crossing over.
The land owners’ move comes a day after they drove hundreds of livestock to the conservation in protest against the committee.
On Saturday, the dispute degenerated into a fight between the locals and the conservancy’s rangers, who had attempted to block a tractor ferrying building materials to Mara North where youths were building a cow pen.
Mr Pariken Kererto, a land owner, said they differed with the Mara North and Naboisho conservancy management on several issues, among them the monthly fees paid to them.
Mr Kererto alleged lack of transparency in management of money obtained from tourism activities and also claimed the management of the two conservancies, initially by Seyia Limited, was changed without their involvement.
The simmering row was partly triggered by a decision to replace Seyia with Greater Mara Management Limited (GMM).
Narok, in a letter signed by county secretary Elizabeth Lolchoki, said in 2018 that the county was concerned about the effects the wrangling would have on wildlife. He said crimes such as poaching would increase if solutions were not found.
“We recommend that the status quo be maintained as the concerns, including the implementation of the conservancy management plan, are appropriately addressed,” he said.