18 May 2006

Kenya: Mau Forest Plunder Still Going On, Say Leaders

Nairobi — Narok civic leaders have expressed concern over the destruction of Mau forest, despite the eviction of over 10,000 settlers last year.

The 14 councillors accused the Government of failing to protect the forest.

"More people than those who were evicted last December have gone back to the forest and are illegally felling trees and cultivating the land," said Supeyo Lemein at a press conference in the town.

The councillors also accused some politicians in Narok South of inciting squatters to return to the forest.

"These politicians tell the people to settle on the forest land, claiming that the Government is reluctant to conserve the resource.

"They also sold the forest land to unsuspecting buyers," claimed Lemein.

The councillors said the squatters were even felling endangered tree species such as white Podo. Last week, local authorities impounded several trucks deep inside the forest loaded with Podo beams. They also confiscated power saws and other equipment used by the loggers. The civic leaders warned that rivers would dry up if the plunder continued.

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