Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala on Monday ordered the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) to probe an alleged harassment incident of a local wildlife conservationist at Ol Jogi Conservancy in Laikipia County.
The victim, Dr Mordecai Ogada, said he was harassed by armed private rangers on Saturday while on a game drive on a public road with his children.
“The Government of Kenya and my Ministry will not condone any undue harassment or intimidation of Kenyans who are going about their normal businesses and enjoying their God-given heritage by anyone,” said Balala.
The CS added, “no discriminatory harassment of any nature in and around private conservancies and in any tourism facility in the country will be tolerated by the Government of Kenya.”
Dr Ogada had narrated the ordeal on his Facebook page accusing foreigners from Ol Jogi ranch of threatening to shoot him for taking wildlife pictures along public Nanyuki-Kinamba road.
Dr Ogada, a carnivore ecologist who has been involved in conservation work for many years in Kenya, says that a guard in a Land Cruiser with registration number KBK 184Q labelled him a poacher for being black.
“I calmly told him who I am, where I am from and that I am taking my kids for a game drive. The fellow told me to move on because I am not allowed to photograph wildlife along the road passing by Ol Jogi, ” he said.
“The fellow radioed for reinforcements, stepped back and took the gun off his shoulder pointing it directly at me and my kids, saying that poachers are “people like us” (whatever that means). His colleagues quickly arrived in tactical mode, guns at the ready.”
It’s after Dr Ogada threatened to report them to authorities that they backed off.
“I refused to get out of the car and threw my card at them, informing them that they shall be hearing from me. I refused to get out of the car, looked at them and dared them to shoot or back off, then one of them suddenly realized that they’re out of their depth, ” he added.
“It was the hardest thing to maintain my happy Dad/ uncle demeanour for the rest of the game drive, but I managed and we got back home safely. We cant take this nangsengs in our country with our children (sic).”
Dr Ogada threatened to file a report at a local police station today.
Armed white men in Laikipia who own large pieces of land have often been accused of harassing locals with the government doing little to stop the “colony” menace.