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Friday, 16 February, 2001, 06:03 GMT
Kenyan herdsmen face ultimatum

Kenyan herdsmen have until the end of today to observe an ultimatum by authorities and move thousands of animals from the Mount Kenya Forest Reserve.

The authorities say they'll force the herdsmen to go if they don't comply willingly.

Conservationists say the thousands of cattle, goats, sheep, and camels are destroying the fragile environmental balance of the reserve - an area already threatened by illegal loggers and charcoal burners.

Herdsmen say they've had no choice but to graze their livestock in the reserve because their traditional pastures in the north-east of Kenya are in the grip of a prolonged drought.

They say fighting between rival pastoral tribes further north has also driven them to the reserve. Last week, a band of heavily-armed cattle-rustlers killed thirty members of a rival tribe and seized fifteen-thousand of their cattle.

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