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British ranch owner killed in Kenya land invasion crisis

Nairobi, Kenya | AFP | 

A British man has been shot dead on his ranch in central Kenya, a local official said Sunday, blaming heavily armed herders responsible for land invasions in the area.

Thousands of herders — some armed with spears, others with AK47s — have invaded private ranches and wildlife parks with their livestock, slaughtering animals and destroying property in Laikipia, as they go in search of pasture in the drought stricken-country.

Tristan Voorspuy, a British citizen who was born in South Africa, had gone to inspect damage on his Sosian ranch caused by the raiders when he was killed. Local media reported that two cottages on his property had been torched.

“It is true the Sosian ranch director was shot dead while going to inspect damage at his ranch,” local government official Jacob Endung told AFP.

“He was riding on his horse when he was felled by bullets. Even the horse was also shot at and is lying there.”

He said police had been unable to access the area due to the high number of the raiders but had managed to fly over the area and saw the body.

“These people are dangerous, they don’t spare anyone,” he said.

Voorspuy spent three years in the British army before moving to Kenya and founding a company specialising in horseback safaris, according to his website.

He and several other shareholders also restored the once derelict Sosian ranch.

In January herders swept into the nearby 44,000-acre (17,600-hectare) Suyian ranch burning thatched huts for tourists.

Elephants, lion, buffalo and zebra have been slaughtered by the herders who come with tens of thousands of livestock, and black and white landowners alike speak of invasions, fear and siege.

The reasons behind the invasions are complex.

While some point to the drought gripping the country, and a spike in human and livestock populations, others say the looming election in August and long-running land gripes have sparked tensions.

Local media have reported that votes are being offered in exchange for land grabs.

The government has done little to stop the invasions and with elections around the corner, few expect vote-costing action against the illegal grazers.

Meanwhile the ethnic logic of Kenyan politics means some candidates stand to benefit from a favourable shift in population dynamics ahead of the vote

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