Written By John Mutiso 📝
British Soldiers training in Nanyuki have been accused of starting a “huge” bushfire at a wildlife reserve in Kenya while high on cocaine.
The British Army was blamed after a blaze caused widespread devastation at Lolldaiga Hills Ranch, a 49,000 acre wildlife sanctuary home to rare zebras, leopards, elephants and more than 400 species of birds.
The fire also had a massive impact on the lands of communities surrounding Lolldaiga, leaving them at risk of drought and encroachment onto their farms by displaced wildlife, according to residents.
The reserve is used by British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK) for training manoeuvres. The unit was sued by more than 1,000 people backed by environmental pressure group The African Centre for Corrective and Preventive Action (ACCPA).
A hearing at Kenya’s High Court was told residents and animals were forced to flee “howling hot winds” blowing over the Lolldaiga Hills as a result of the fire which destroyed around a fifth of the reserve in March last year during an apparent military exercise.
The court heard ACCPA and the residents are seeking compensation and reparations for the impact of the fire, which they claim was “caused by agents of the British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK) who tested positive for cocaine”.
Judge Antonina Bore said that under the terms of the agreement “it is evident that Kenya would have jurisdiction for civil claims and liabilities arising from activities in its territory under the agreement while the UK would have jurisdiction for civil claims and liabilities arising from activities in its territory.
Judge Bore ordered that ACCPA and the group of local residents must now go through a dispute resolution process in a bid to agree terms with the UK government.
If an agreement cannot be reached the case will return to be tried in the Kenyan courts.