The Tanzania immigration office has seized about 2,500 livestock belonging to Kajiado West herders who crossed into the country for pasture.
More than 300 families that moved to the Nkaresero area three weeks ago have asked Kenyan authorities to intervene, said Magadi MCA Peter Pariken.
Pariken claimed that the immigration department slapped a fine of Sh18,000 for every head of cattle for the “illegal” crossing. This brings the total to Sh45 million ($494,000).
The Maasai herders cannot afford the fine, said the MCA who led a delegation of Kajiado leaders to Tanzania on Wednesday.
Ngong deputy commissioner Kahiro Mwangi, whose jurisdiction borders Ngorongoro district in Arusha, wrote a protest note over the matter, Pariken said.
He said he handed the note to the Ngorongoro DC on Thursday, before entering into negotiations for the release of the animals.
“We are still negotiating with them because we believe something must have gone terribly wrong. For many years the Kenyan Maasai have crossed into Tanzania in search of grass whenever there was a drought,” he said.
“The Tanzanians have been doing the same by crossing into Kenya and we have never had any issues.”
The herders crossed over following a long spell of drought in Magadi and parts of Ewuaso in Kajiado West.
Without the government’s intervention, the herders are likely to lose more than Sh45 million in fines.
Alternatives, considering higher livestock prices amid the drought, would be to sell the animals to raise the fines or surrender them.
Money obtained from selling them might however be insufficient as an emaciated cow now costs between Sh6,000 and Sh8,000.
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