More tourists visit Isiolo as security improves, herders and bandits kicked out of parks
The number of tourists visiting Isiolo has increased following improved security in national parks and reserves in the county after herders who had been grazing their animals there were kicked out. The sector had suffered a blow in revenue collection following a decline in tourist numbers due to clashes between herders in the parks, cattle rustling and inter-community clashes. In 2015, tourists had boycotted the Buffalo Springs, Shaba and Bisanadi game reserves due to insecurity.
The county Tourism executive Suleiman Shunu said most of the game lodges were now fully booked since December 2015 after rangers flashed out bandits and herders grazing their animals in parks. He said the county government was working to revive the parks that were ranked second nationally in hospitality after those in Narok County which used to be managed by the defunct county council. Mr Shunu added that the parks had been turned into a battle field by bandits hence scaring away the tourists.
Although it is a low-season for tourists, the county executive said the sector’s revenue had increased after insecurity was contained. At least 50 people died during the conflict pitting the Samburu and Turkana communities. In October 2015, 12 tourists were caught up in a shootout between herders at Buffalo Springs.
Five lions were poisoned by herders and eight Grevy’s zebras and two ostriches killed during the clashes. The executive also revealed that the number of rangers will be increased to counter any resistance from herders grazing their animals in the parks. “The number of bandits had surpassed our rangers who were less than 40. The herders had also resorted to killing the wildlife for game meat,” he said. “The parks are only meant for the wild animals and cattle grazing there will not be allowed,” added Mr Shunu.
He said the communities living along the parks will be educated on wildlife management and conservation. Earlier, the county government used to collect Sh200 million as revenue from the parks, but during the 2014-2015 financial year, it generated only Sh68 million. Mr Shunu was optimistic that the revenue generated from the sector would increase.
During celebrations to mark the third anniversary of the county government, Isiolo Governor Godana Doyo announced that his administration would partner with Safari Airlink to fly tourists directly from Nairobi to Isiolo game parks to spur tourism. The county government was also looking for possibilities of leasing out the three parks to the African Park Management Organization which revives parks in Africa.
Courtersy of Daily Nation