The Laikipia County, through its partner FAO, held a 2-day meeting to discuss how they could move forward in their efforts to formalize and operationalize the Laikipia National Reserve —formerly referred to as Kirimun. For years, this area has been a national reserve on paper only.
The Laikipia Tourism Association was invited to provide input on tourism. Other stakeholders present included the Kenya Wildlife Service, National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), National Lands Commission (NLC), the Kenya Forest Service (KFS), Loisaba and Ol Malo Conservancies, and various County departments.
The objective of the workshop
- To hold a consultative meeting with key stakeholders to provide their inputs in institutionalizing the game reserve.
- To understand the guidelines by which nationally designated protected areas are realized.
- To discuss and agree on best approaches for the management of the reserve
- To identify gaps and come up with strategic interventions to fast track the operationalization of the game reserve
The meeting kicked off with presentations by the Kenya Wildlife Service:
A plenary session raised vital issues:
- Settlements – many people have settled on the Reserve, and any attempts to formalize the Reserve would require proper community engagement and sensitization, as well as a re-settlement strategy. (To date, human settlement is still not allowed in national protected areas).
- Funding/budgets to support the formalization effort.
- Reserve boundaries – stakeholders, established that it was not clear where the boundaries of the Laikipia National Reserve were. It was also established that the NYS and KDF set camp within the reserve, which poses another obstacle. Demarcation and involving these partners would be necessary.
- Community engagement – it was noted with concern that there was no representation from the pastoralist communities to the meetings.
- Role of the private sector – the county highlighted that the private sector would help in sourcing and providing data, assist in resource mobilization and complement their efforts to fund the initiative.
- Research to date – numerous biodiversity research and wildlife monitoring activities have been conducted in the area of the Reserve, and these findings were not included in the discussion or part of the presentation.
The County also presented the Ecological and Economic values of the Laikipia National Reserve to the County Government of Laikipia.
Stakeholders present established that the county lacked sufficient data and information on the Reserve. They advised that a proper baseline survey would need to be conducted to establish facts on the Reserve, related to all natural resources, people, livestock, and wildlife, as well as historical patterns of access and use.
The County mentioned that it had an initial allocation of 250M towards this effort. The next budget cycle would capture this. The C/O Department of Water, Environment, and Natural Resources, reconfirmed their intent to said they started being intentional on this project after the last budget cycle had lapsed.
From the various issues raised during the plenary session, the group identified different priority areas to kick start the operationalization of this reserve.
Kirimun at a glance
- Reserve Area – 165 square kilometers
- Formerly – Livestock Marketing Division/National Youth Service lands
- Gazetted in 1991 – one of only 2 gazetted areas in Laikipia (the other being Laikipia National Park (the former Moi Ranch/Eland Downs))
- Mandated for Formalization and Development by the County Assembly – November 2019
- Under provisions of the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act, the reserve will operate similar to Maasai Mara National Reserve, with activities, expenditure and income controlled by the County, and wildlife management under a joint agreement with KWS.
|Community Engagement and Sensitization||Continuous||All|
|Boundary Realignment||By 15th March 2022||C/0 Infrastructure, CECM Water, Environment and Natural Resources.|
|Stakeholder Mapping and Inventory||By 15th April 2022||KWS, KFS|
|Establish Presence in Game Reserve||By 15th April 2022||CECM Water, Environment and Natural Resources.|
|Participatory Management Planning||30th March 2022- End of June||CECM Water, Environment and Natural Resources.|
|ESIA||Commences on 30th March 2022||CECM Water, Environment and Natural Resources.|
A technical management committee was formed to advance these activities and ensure they were completed in good time.
The management committee currently consists of:
- County Government of Laikipia-Department of Water, Environment and Natural Resources.
- County Government of Laikipia -Department of Trade & Tourism
- National Lands Commission
- National Youth Service
- Members of the Resident and surrounding Communities
- Loisaba/Ol Malo – stakeholders suggested that Loisaba and Ol Malo represent other LNR neighbours, including Mugie, Sabuk, and community conservancies
Stakeholders concluded that the LTA and other private sector players would be better engaged during the participatory management planning process to provide their expertise and to review tourism and investment options.
Noticeably absent was NRT, who stakeholders believed should lead discussions with communities inside and surrounding the Reserve. Removal of residents and their infrastructure, transients, and livestock managers, etc. could be hotly contested and a source of friction and confrontation. This matter will have to handled very carefully and pastoralist communities with ties to the land accommodated at all stages of formalization of the Reserve.
The technical committee was requested to submit names of individuals by 22nd February 2022.