Kenya Forest Service (KFS) personnel in conjunction with police officers have recovered 96 pieces of red cedar tree at Chepalungu area in Maasai Mau forest.
Confirming the incident, Narok South Sub- county Police Commander Ms. Magdalene Chebet said forest rangers from Nkoben camp were patrolling Chepalungu area of the Maasai Mau forest at around 11:30 pm on Thursday night when they came across illegal loggers transporting the said forest produce on six donkeys.
She said the illegal loggers managed to escape while the KFS officers impounded the six donkey and cedar posts. The animals and the forest produce are being held at Nkoben KFS camp. A search has been mounted for the illegal loggers who escaped upon seeing the officers.
Cedar is among indigenous species of trees and plants in Kenya classified as endangered. It`s protected by the law under the Forest Act. Cedar is among is the most targeted trees because of its ornamental morphology and fragrant, durable wood that has application in the construction and furniture industry.
Although the law was amended to give stiffer penalties to those found destroying forests and water towers, the law has not done much to deter this crime and many forests and waters towers in the country have been invaded by illegal settlers, loggers and charcoal burners. This has seen forest cover in the country drop to a measly seven per cent which is way below the recommended cover of over 10 per cent.
To reverse this situation, the government carried out eviction of illegal settlers from Maasai Mau forest and outlawed all forms of human activities in the forest. During the first phase of the eviction in Narok in July 2018, about 7,700 people were evicted from the forest land which saw over 12,000 acres of the forest reclaimed.
The second phase of the water tower restoration in Maasai Mau in Narok happened voluntarily in September and October 2019 in Narok where over 3,300 households left the forest voluntarily.