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THE LATEST MAASAI ISSUES
Maasai, a pastoralist people who dwell on the fringes of the Mau Forest during
the dry seasons, are also being threatened by Kenya's disregard
for the rights of indigenous groups.
The Maasai's land once
extended over a vast stretch of area from Lake Victoria almost
to the Indian Ocean. But diseases and the European colonization in
the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries reduced their
land substantially. Since independence in the 1960s, more and
more of their land has been taken over for private farms and ranches,
government projects, and wildlife parks.
International states that six of Kenya and Tanzania's national parks alone
cover more than 13,000 square kilometers (5,000 square miles)
of what was once Maasailand.
Seeking legal recourse
Environmental Resource Coalition (MERC) is a not-for-profit
making organization founded in Kenya and Tanzania in 1987 to protect
Maasai traditional lands and the rich ecosystems within them.
MERC's mission is to advocate for the protection of the Maasai
people's traditional lands and to promote conservation, management,
and sustainable use of the ecosystems within which they live.
YOU CAN DO
Maasai Environmental Resource Coalition (MERC)
is currently raising money for a legal defense
fund that would hire a legal expert to stop
the Maasai from losing more land.
OUR MAASAI INFORMATION
"At the time of
colonization, we the Maasai of what is now Kenya and Tanzania
lost 75 percent of our ancestral lands and were relegated to what
were known as the 'Maasai Reservations,'" said Meitamei Olol-Dapash,
coordinator of MERC, in a recent statement.
"We lost most
of our dry season grazing lands and sacred sites. Without land,
the Maasai cannot survive," Olol-Dapash continued. "Land
to us is the foundation of our livelihood, spirituality, and identity.
It is the cornerstone of our cultural reproduction."
According to Olol-Dapash,
the last two sacred sites remaining in Maasai hands the
only watershed areas in Maasailand are under threat from
external interests. "Namina Enkiyio (Forest of the Lost Child)
is the last holy ground on which the Maasai conduct solemn ceremonies
and the Mau Forest is the Maasai 'Promised Land,'" he said.
interests want the Forest of the Lost Child for tourism,"
Olol-Dapash continued. The "developers" have also targeted the Mau Forest
for large-scale tea plantations and the corporate Water-Mafia
wants to get it into their hands. With little or no economic resources
to seek legal redress, the Maasai are vulnerable and could very
well lose these sacred lands."
The Masai in Tanzania face similar problems
and the way tourism is organized poses a serious threat. Read was
the Masai themselves have to say :
Grave Concern over Peace / Tourism
Conference in Tanzania
Open letter to ‘Coalition Murderous’
Navaya ole Ndaskoi
Indigenous Rights for Survival International
P. O. Box 13357
Dar Es Salaam
Mobile phone +255-744-453 192
Alternative phone +225-748-604 038
November 30, 2003
1. Louis D’Amore, President
International Institute for Peace though Tourism
Fox Hill 13 Cottage Club
United States of America.
2. Dr. Catherine DeLeo, Chair
Recreation Resources & Ski Resort Mgmt
Lyndon State College
United States of America
Dear Louis and Catherine:
RE: 1) 2ND IIPT AFRICAN CONFERENCE
ON PEACE THROUGH TOURISM
2) YOUTH LEADERSHIP FORUM December 7-12, 2003 Dar es
Like many all over the world, I
have spent the last days and weeks and months in great agony, as
the current assault and massacres of Peace, Law and Justice by the
most rapacious imperial powers on earth has unfolded. Death,
destruction and human misery have turned into celluloid images
analysed and dissected by retired majors and ‘embedded’
journalists with utter cynicism and shameless glee while exhorting
the virtue of precision bombing. Shame itself is ashamed as
marines descend from their tanks to throw water bottles to
traumatised thirsty Iraqis while tanks fire at Basra's water
plants. Not many months ago. In the Palestine theatre of conflicts,
innocent children, youth, women and the vulnerable are dying each
In this state, I am finding it
impossible to intellectualise on Peace and muse over Tourism.
Peace, Law, Justice and Liberation have all been murdered! And we
all know the murderous.
I am afraid, I cannot simply bring
myself to attend these conferences. I know you will be
disappointed. I also know that you have gone out of your way to
make it possible for me to attend. But I also know that you, like
many others at these conferences, do not necessarily share my
anxiety and outrage. Perhaps the conferences will be an occasion
for you to make policies that make the poor poorer and the rich
get richer. Enough of ‘development’ tricks!
No, for once, I want to be myself.
Let me read my books and hope that my generation will place this
world back on its head. The rational and human thing that can be
said and done is to attack all forms of tourism which use money to
trample an African human being underfoot.
In all sincerity, in this context,
can we really talk about peace through tourism? In whose image? In
the image of Anglo-American ‘peace’? If this is not another
empty vessel, why the meeting should be held in Dar es Salaam? I
am told Dar es Salaam is a capital of one of the most
‘peaceful’ countries on earth. True Dar and Nairobi were
bombed in 1998. But that does not alter facts. The targets of
those bombings were Americans. We know that they know it.
In your retired e-mails, you said
that two Global Summits on Peace through Tourism were held in
(Amman, Jordan – Nov. 2000; and Geneva, Switzerland, Feb. 2003)
and the First IIPT African Conference, Nelspruit, Mpumalanga
Province, South Africa, March 2002).
Now Jordan, Switzerland and South
Africa are not, and I stand to be proved wrong, the most shambolic
countries as far as insecurity is concern. Right? If wrong, at
least they do not outstrip Kabul, Kunduz, Najaf, Gaza Strip,
Tikrit and Baghdad.
If the conferences are hot potatoes for Africa, there are real
battlefields on the continent. They are Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast,
Burundi, DR Congo, Liberia, Somalia, Northern Uganda and Southern
Sudan. There is no peace in those countries.
They are thus the best venue.
But wait. Did I read in one of your
e-mails something to this effect: the ‘aims of the conference
are…to mobilize travel and tourism…as a leading force for
poverty reduction in Africa.’ Did I hear somewhere too that
until recently Kenya ‘was leading in attracting the bulk of the
sub-Saharan Africa tourist trade?’ Are ordinary Kenyans any
better than other ordinary Africans? What country on earth
developed by depending on fickle tourist revenue?
It is a great source of sadness too
that some of the participants are the very people responsible for
the plight of indigenous communities, wildlife and the environment
(read the Loliondo controversy). Genuinely, you have arranged for
me to meet Gerald Bigurube-Director General Tanzania National
Parks Authority (TANAPA). Unfortunately, a possible cardinal sin
to be committed by anybody, in his right senses, who knows
TANAPA’s acts of mindless vandalism in villages bordering
national parks is to meet Bigurube. TANAPA is behaving as if some
inhabitants of Venus head it. You have no idea how much this
Since tourism brings foreign
currency, it can be understood why the establishments value
wildlife than human beings. But why the very money magnets,
wildlife, should be subjected to an undue killing in the name of
sport-hunting, is best known to the big shots of this country,
Bigurube included. He is a presidential appointee. Did he resign
in the interest of peace and wildlife if the Government did not
listen him concerning the outrageous hunting in Loliondo? One
cannot possibly cut off the hand that feeds him. He head TANAPA.
Pretend that things are in order. Get the bread! The Director
General may disagree with me to this point. But if he likes the
Loliondo killings then we (you and I) must develop other thoughts.
Secondly the venue is the Golden
Tulip Hotel, Dar es Salaam. If the aim is to fight poverty can
participants see any poverty in Golden Tulip? Above all, the
majority of people in this Republic live far below the ‘Poverty
Line.’ Are Frederick Sumaye, Prime Minister of the United
Republic of Tanzania, Zakia Hamdani Meghji, Minister of Natural
Resources and Tourism, Republic of Tanzania, Dr. Asha Rose Migiro,
Tanzania Minister for Community Development, Gender and Children,
Dawid De Villiers, Deputy Secretary General, World Tourism
Organisation and Ian Christie, World Bank Group themselves poor?
How can an oppressor negotiate himself, and there are also women,
out of the system that benefited him? Nelson Mandela correctly
argued, ‘force is the only language an oppressor can understand.’
Do Tanzanians, the majority, have
interest in the conferences? Do they see the validity? Can they
afford to attend even when there were no registration fees? Would
decent Tanzanians like their country to be visited (short stay,
quick and dirty) by foreigners whose sole purpose is to commit
grossly inhuman acts that they could not do in their own countries?
Would they like to be seen hosting brutal freak shows for MONEY?
Is Tanzania so financially impoverished and so morally bankrupt
that this is actually being advertised? National pride, humanity,
common decency...quo vadis.
It always shocks me to the marrow
to see our rulers performing somersaults to attract veracious
vultures called investors and predators called tourists (consumptive
and non-consumptive) especially from the nations of European
The conferences are, I like to believe, most certainly the
triumphs of the powerful, the rich, and those expecting perks,
local and expatriates!
Another major downside of one of
the conferences is its very expected outcome. ‘The outcome of
the Conference will be an “Action Agenda” – a “21st
Century Agenda for Peace through Tourism” with a focus on
implementation of strategic initiatives and pilot projects that
empower local communities to achieve jobs with dignity and
Well. Is there any truth in this?
In the face of things this looks like a strong argument. Some who
know the facts extremely well, however, feels that despite the
fallacies the people who are already at their lowest ebb of
suffering loose much. Despite the fads, fancies, ‘new directions’
and endless ‘policy rethinks’ that have characterised the
‘development’ business for decades, and despite the
expenditure of a lot of money there is little evidence to prove
that the poor have actually benefited from the ‘development’
agenda. Year in year out, however, there can be no doubt that
conservation, tourism and ‘development’ pay the heft salaries
and underwrite the privileged lifestyles of the international
civil servants, ‘development experts,’ consultants and
assorted freeloaders who staff ‘development’ agencies
How can we talk of peace while the
nations of European stock are molesting it? Perhaps one day, the
oppressed in Tanzania (by extension in Africa) will drive away
tourists with whips!
We could demonstrate against the
said conferences. But this Government, which you seem to cherish,
is guaranteed to gun us down. With live ammunition! Read January
26 and 27, 2001. So you can just go ahead. History will
prove you wrong. Unfortunately while history will vindicate us it
will never restore our rights.
No, thank you…! I shall not utter
‘peace’ until I see the ghosts of the Iraqis, Afghanis and
Palestines dancing on buried tanks, APCs and B52s! Until I see all
‘coalition’ murderous leaving Iraq and Afghanistan. Until I
see both Bush and Blair being dragged to face the full force of
law. Until I see the monstrous Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Ordinance (No.14 of 1959) as amended from time to time being
rubbished. Until I see the Maasai retaking their ancestral land,
the Greater Serengeti! Until I see the remains of Michael Grzimek
(buried in Ngorongoro), Frederick Selous (buried in Selous Game
Reserve), Hugo van Lawick (buried in Ngorongoro) and all murderous
buried in conservation areas including Cecil Rhodes (buried in
Matopos National Park, Zimbabwe) being flown where they belong,
I know this letter will bitterly
offend you. I make no apologies for that.
Over our dead bodies! No exploitation of man by man.
The world is watching you.
With grave concern,
Navaya ole Ndaskoi
Indigenous Rights for Survival International.
CC. The press, print and electronic.
CC. University of Dar es Salaam School of Thought.
CC. Pastoral and hunter-gather organisations (Eastern Africa and
CC. Survival-International (London).
CC. ECOTERRA Intl. African Node (Nairobi).
CC. Social justice believer across the globe, please distribute it
far and wide.
CC. Nation of Islam.
CC. Diplomatic Mission, Dar es Salaam.
CC. Religious Institutions (Tanzania).
Additonal call by the author:
I appeal to you and all peace
loving people around the globe to pay
attention to this mail.
The International Institute for
Peace through Tourism and the Youth
Leadership Forum, based in the United States are organising IIPT
Conference on Peace through Tourism to be held in at the Golden
Hotel in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), 7-12 December 2003.
This conference conceals sinister
objectives (Please see the attachment).
Do two things then. Foremost, distribute this e-mail to as many
individuals and organisations as you can or possibly publish it.
swarm the IIPT with protest letters and/or e-mails.
Their conduct is as follows:
International Institute for Peace
13 Cottage Club Road Stowe
Vermont, 05672 USA
Let us prevent the rich and
powerful from trampling human beings
Navaya ole Ndaskoi
Indigenous Rights for Survival International
P.O. Box 13357
Dar es Salaam
CONSERVATION AND THE
MAASAI IN KENYA.
TRADEOFF OR LOST MUTUALISM?
This paper explores two
large classes of policy failure which have caused deviation from
Pareto optimality between principal stakeholders in the southern
Kenyan Maasailands. First, an inappropriate settlement and
privatization scheme attempted to give Maasai title to land
historically theirs while ushering them into the Kenyan market
economy, but instead caused fragmentation of their rangeland ecology
and culture. Second, wildlife conservation in Amboseli National Park
and the Masai Mara Game Reserve is dangerously unsustainable in
large part through shortsighted, inadequate and poorly implemented
policy. The situation has created conflict between conservation
interests and the Maasai, and funnels the economic benefits of
tourism away from those who bear the costs of lost land rights.
Five principal groups
exert force over natural resource control in the southern Kenyan
Maasai: The Maasai
have occupied southern Kenya and the Rift Valley for at least a
millennium, maintaining a semi-nomadic pastoral lifestyle closer
to their ‘traditional’ culture than any other southern
Kenyan tribe. Their principal demand is for land rights, with
increasing interest in modern services to improve standards of
living and market power.
conservation community: Impassioned by a desire to conserve the
largest remaining and most diverse savanna ecosystem on the
globe, conservationists demand land and are inclined to dictate
where Maasai can and cannot range.
Tourism community: A
transient group voting with dollars, the tourist trade demands
infrastructure, services and visible wildlife.
Primarily interested in economic development and foreign income
generated by tourism, government, both local and federal,
maintains demand for money and jurisdiction.
Previously restricted by an extended dry season, introduction of
drylands adapted crops, development of infrastructure and
population pressures have brought agriculturists from Kenya’s
most numerous tribes, primarily Kikuyu and Luo.
and ecological environment
The Maasai range over arid and semiarid savannas of southern Kenya
(see Figure I) These regions are of primarily alkali and volcanic
soils, from 500 to 2000m in elevation. A prolonged dry season and
inappropriate soils have long kept agriculture away, impossible
without irrigation and fertilization. Adjoining to the south in
Tanzania are vast areas of similar habitat: the Serengeti plains and
Masai Steppe, together making the world’s largest remaining
grassland ecosystem. These plains are profoundly productive for
ungulates (1), with more diversity
and density of large mammals than anywhere else on earth. Within the
Serengeti plains, 3.5 million wildebeest, zebra and gazelle range
and migrate seasonally, following rain patterns.
Maasai are pastoral nomads, thought to have come to East Africa from
the north in the late first millennium AD. They are bordered by
Kalenjin agro-pastoralists to the west and agricultural Bantu tribes
in most other directions. The large grouping of Bantu tribes
includes the Kikuyu and Luo to the north, and Chagga and Abugasi to
the south and southwest. Where other pastoral tribes bordered on
Maasai land, a large buffer area usually was left, in which
hunter-gatherer Dorobo lived. Relations between Maasai and
agricultural tribes were mostly peaceful and trade-oriented. This is
particularly so with Kikuyu, with whom the Maasai share a deity and
sometimes exchange wives. The Maasai would regularly raid other
pastoral and semi-pastoral tribes, hence the buffer area.
The tribes crucial to
this story are Maasai, Kikuyu, Kalenjin, and to a lesser extent
other Bantu groups. Maasai traditionally occupied much of Kenya’s
Rift Valley, a stretch of low elevation savanna and acacia woodland
scattered with alkaline lakes. East and West are bordered by sharp
rift walls rising 500 to 700 meters to the central highlands (see
Figure I). Prior to the colonial period, land was segregated
ecologically, with Maasai in dry savanna too poor for agriculture,
while Kikuyu and Kalenjin farmed wetter areas above the rift, where
tsetse flies kept away pastoral Maasai (Kituyi 1993:p.124).
Figure I Kenya: Maasailand past
and present (Berger 1993) and protected areas (Yeager & Miller
History of the Kenyan Maasai
The British came to Kenya intending to construct an agricultural
economy. They immediately saw the Maasai as a barrier to progress
and pursued development with a labor base of Kikuyu and Luo (Spence
1996). White settlers occupied 60,000 acres of Kikuyu land between
1903 and 1906 (Rutten 1992:p.174). British control expanded until by
1910, most land already under the plow at the time of their arrival
became controlled by colonial interests. At the same time, British
settlers focused their attentions on a central piece of the Rift
Valley, near present day Nakuru. This Maasai land was arable but
never farmed by pastoral Maasai. Only just recovering from severe
disease and drought in the 1890’s, the Maasai were manipulated
with relative ease into a treaty taking this land (Lindsay
1987:p.152). The 1904 treaty established a Northern Reserve in the
Laikipia area and a Southern Reserve where the Maasai range today.
This treaty was to endure ‘so long as the Masai as a race shall
exist, and that Europeans or other settlers shall not be allowed to
take up land in the Settlements’ (Rutten 1992:p177). The Rift
Valley area formerly occupied by Maasai was divided into concessions
as large as 1000 square kilometers. After two years, the Northern
Reserve pastures were found to be inadequate in the dry season and
was therefore extended to regain a piece of European-claimed land.
With European hunger for land still strong, the ‘Second Maasai
Treaty’ was negotiated in 1911. In exchange for a slight extension
of the Southern Reserve, the entire Northern Reserve was given to
colonial powers for European settlement. Apparently the Maasai chief
who accepted the treaty acted out of motivation to reassert control
over southern Maasai, from whom he had been cut off by the 1904
treaty. Maasai sued the colonial government in its municipal courts
for breach of the 1904 agreement, but the government argued (in its
own courts) that the agreement had not been a contract but rather a
treaty, and that a treaty could not be negotiated in municipal
court. When the Maasai went to the British Court of Appeals for
Eastern Africa, the British argued that the Maasai indeed
constituted a sovereign entity, but that their treaty had no
validity under international law because it had been made with the
British Protectorate government (Asiema and Situma 1994).
With some minor changes and
extensions, the Southern Reserve as it stood after the Second Masai
Treaty is the area of Kenya now legally under Maasai jurisdiction
(see Figure I). Maasai lost their best
dry-season rangeland to European encroachment, to gain only small
amounts of marginal land in south Kenya. These treaties illustrate a
general disregard for Maasai property rights present from the outset
of Kenya’s modern history. That Maasai lands were legally
recognized from 1911 has not stopped encroachment from land-hungry
Kikuyu, Kamba and Chagga. Displaced by colonial settlers and a
rapidly growing population, many moved illegally or semi-legally
into the wetter northern regions north of present day Narok and
Kajiado (Rutten 1992). Some Kikuyu followed relations who had
married into the Maasai, while others rented plots in an arrangement
initially attractive to Maasai, now much less food secure after the
loss of their prime dry-season range. After independence, tension
continued to grow as land hunger increased. Meanwhile, district
administrative boundaries were in constant flux, reflective of an
essentially ad hoc development process.
In reaction to land tenure insecurity,
the mid 1950’s saw the introduction of individual, then group
ranches. In particular, young and educated Maasai were enthusiastic
about securing land title in order to improve rangeland facilities
and join the market economy through beef production. The subsequent
privatization has been an ongoing process, largely evolving through
trial and error. Group ranches proved unsatisfactory and tended
towards disintegration into small plots unable to sustain cattle and
Maasai families through dry seasons and droughts. This failure will
be analyzed below, as a key policy failure in development of
Political History: Independence to
In 1963, Kenya gained independence with Jomo Kenyatta as Kenya’s
first president. A Kikuyu, Kenyatta continued the British emphasis
on an agricultural economy and maintained a parliament heavily
over-represented by Kikuyu. Kenya was politically stable if not
representative, and was favored by Western nations for development
projects. Meanwhile, the tourism industry gained popularity, rapidly
bringing foreign investment and foreign exchange with essentially no
effort on the part of the government. Annual visitation to Amboseli
National Park grew 22% per year between 1965 and 1969 (Mitchell
1969, quoted in Western 1997) During this period, the Maasai were
effectively ignored and kept outside political spheres of influence,
both directly via an unrepresentative government, and indirectly by
limited access to education or market linkages.
Daniel arap Moi, then vice-president
and a member of the Kalenjin tribe, came to power in 1978 with
Kenyatta’s death. During the fifteen years of rule by Kenyatta,
Moi was a dissident voice of the KADU(2)
opposition, and stood for the political ideology of ‘Majimboism,’
Swahili for ethnic (i.e., indigenous) regionalism, or ‘ethno-federalism.’
Majimboism proposes that the peoples who are indigenous to any given
region should control that region's affairs; the platform thus
opposes any centralized domination of the entire state by any
particular peoples. The ideology also proposes the subordination of
non-indigenous peoples within particular regions by those who are
indigenous (Spence 1996). Once in power, however, Moi quickly turned
Kenya into a Kalenjin development project. Moi justifies current
policy by reasoning that since Kenyatta ran a Kikuyu project, the
precedent has now been long-established that single-party rule is as
legitimate as domination by particular peoples. By following
precedent, there is nothing wrong with the overrepresentation of
Kalenjin in Moi’s cabinet and the Parliament. The few non-Kalenjin
members of KANU(3) are very cooperative
with the status quo of Kalenjin domination, as “any deviation is
to risk losing their posts and, depending on their potential to
influence the masses, their lives” (Spence 1996).
As opposed to Kenyatta who could rely
solely on support from his own majority tribe, the Kikuyu, Moi has
been forced to make some alliances to maintain power. This has given
the Maasai a voice, as Moi has two very important Maasai officials
in his government: vice-president George Saitoti, and William ole
Ntimama, the Minister of Local Government and Member of Parliament
of Northern Narok District. However, it is clear that two Maasai in
high government posts do not constitute representation for rural
Maasai; with only a very few well-educated tribe members, the
long-standing history is of gross self-aggrandizement of the few at
the expense of disenfranchised rural Maasai.
The final chapter in Kenyan political
history is post-1982 political repression. An attempted coup in 1982
motivated severe human rights abuses by the government and groups
hired by the government. When the cold war ended, Western countries
began putting pressure on single-party states to make democratic
reforms. After losing reportedly billions in international aid,
Kenya yielded in 1991 by repealing a 1982 constitutional amendment
which had made Kenya a one party state (Spence 1996). Multiparty
registration is now legal, but Moi has effectively retained
dictatorial control through constant harassment, detention without
trial and other forms of persecution of political opponents. Maasai
have been repeatedly used as agents of this political repression,
displacing 300,000 and killing 1500 between 1991 and 1994 in efforts
to drive Kikuyu and Luos from the politically pivotal Rift Valley
(Amnesty International 1994). In 1993, after a group of Maasai
attacked opposition supporters at the state opening of Parliament,
KANU Secretary General Joseph Kamotho publicly admitted that the
Maasai were part of a 3000-strong youth squad hired by KANU for the
occasion to ‘deal with the opposition supporters.’ (Human Rights
Watch/Africa 1993). During this past year leading up to December
elections, similar disruption tactics have been organized by the
government utilizing Maasai and others, effectively maintaining the
fragmentation of opposition groups.
History of conservation in Kenya
British colonial power brought conservation to Kenya early, with a
concern for rapid loss of game through hunting pressures. Hunting
without a license became illegal shortly after the turn of the
century, although funds were very limited for implementation of
rules created by the Society for the Preservation of the Fauna of
the Empire, based in Britain (Berger 1993). Most land now protected
was designated between 1945 and 1960, in areas deemed low in
economic potential. National Parks came under the authority of the
National Park Service, with mostly European game wardens and
external funding (mostly from World Wildlife Fund, International
Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources and the
New York Zoological Society). National reserves, in areas where
human activity could not be excluded, came under control of the
Forest Department. Because Kenyan parks were created by the
government with little regard for local need, Kenyan reactions to
park designation have been described as ‘baffled and angered’
(Berger 1993). With the perception that subsistence hunting was
decimating wildlife, game patrols jailed Africans hunting without
permits. Anti-poaching campaigns, for example, are alleged to have
destroyed the Waliangulu people around Tsavo National Park who were
dependent on elephant hunting. At one time, about one-third of the
adult male Waliangulu were in prison for poaching. Early
conservation policy saw Maasai as somewhat compatible with wildlife,
not excluded from game reserves but removed from national parks. The
prevailing attitude was one of separation between people and
wildlife. This topic will be discussed further, as it is the roots
of policy failure in Kenyan conservation.
With independence, the new
government’s strong aspirations for growth began a period of
‘utilization without management’ (Berger 1993). Few facilities
or funds were available for monitoring wildlife and ecosystem
impacts or for development and maintenance of park facilities.
Attitudes of the new regime were in strong contrast to British
values for wildlife, introducing utilization as part of conservation
management. Because hunting safaris and increasing wildlife tourism
were such significant earners of foreign exchange, the economic
value of game was perceived early on. I would make the argument that
little conservation ethic existed in the central government after
independence but economic value argued for its conservation.
Attempts were made at consumptive utilization of wildlife outside
established parks, beginning the idea of wildlife management as a
legitimate land use on par with livestock or development
alternatives. The Wildlife Act of 1976, governing the now-unified
National Park Service and Game Department, proposed that landowners
supporting wildlife should receive sufficient remuneration to enable
sustainable wildlife utilization. Compensation for loss of life and
damages to property began with the Wildlife Act. These early
management techniques attempted to view wildlife at the landscape
level with multiple use zones and accounting for local needs.
Unfortunately, political and administrative problems failed to
implement rural development of wildlife utilization. The 1960s and
70s also saw interest in using wildlife for commercial production to
feed demands of Kenya’s 4% annual population growth rate. A pilot
project from 1971-77 failed to develop economically viable cropping
techniques, and was halted in light of decreasing wildlife
populations as agricultural development consumed habitat and
poaching pressures became severe (Berger 1993).
In light of declining game
populations and increasing poaching for the ivory and rhino horn
trade, a comprehensive hunting ban was instated by presidential
decree in 1977. All legal forms of consumptive wildlife utilization
ended, and with it hunting safari income was lost. It appears to
have been a necessary step for viable conservation in a system
lacking sufficient capacity to regulate hunting. Anti-poaching
efforts have stepped up tremendously, especially since President
Moi’s sensationalist burning of 10 tons of ivory in 1989. Wildlife
is now singularly utilized through the tourist trade, exacerbating
the gap between who pays for wildlife and who benefits from it.
Development of tourism facilities has proceeded with no sense of
limitations to growth. The stated goal was one million tourists by
1990. Actual figures fell far short, as discussed below, but the
goal illustrates a ‘mining’ attitude toward park resources.
Recent history has brought intense
controversy to Kenya’s park and conservation management, with
Richard Leakey (of anthropological fame) appointed to the newly
created Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) in 1989. The former Wildlife
Conservation and Management Department (WCMD) was undermined by a
lack of capacity and accountability, whereas its successor, KWS,
began on a reformed footing. Leakey used both his international fame
and the imminent danger to Kenya’s Black Rhinos and elephants to
significantly strengthen anti-poaching efforts and root out
corruption in the park revenue system. Guards were well trained and
equipped and were instructed to shoot to kill. With over one hundred
poachers killed in the first two years of KWS’ existence, poaching
was rapidly halted, but not without controversy (Peluso 1993). While
elephants, and especially rhinos would not exist today without this
strength in leadership, Leakey’s strong protectionist views have
heightened local conflicts with wildlife and conservation(4).
In 1993, Leakey resigned under strong pressure from the government,
and was replaced by noted ecologist and conservationist David
Western. Western has pursued a strategy completely opposite that of
Leakey’s, with full emphasis on participatory conservation and
cooperative problem resolution. Leakey has since become a great
thorn in the side of KANU and President Moi through Leakey's own
political party Safina and has never ceased criticizing present park
management for being inadequate in the face of encroachment (5).
Whether participatory conservation is the answer to lead to a Pareto
optimality is thus far unknown. It is unquestionably a part of the
solution. Present programs have distinct potential, but continue to
be hampered by the same set of capacity, accountability and
transparency problems as discussed below.
Kenya now has 24 National Parks, 27
National Reserves and three Game Sanctuaries (KWS 1996). Under
protection is a total of 3,504,000 hectares, 6.0% of Kenya’s land
area (WRI 1996). While this land area is significant and parks are
far better protected than in most developing countries, an estimated
80% of Kenya’s wildlife requires area outside the parks for
dispersal and migration (Western 1969).
Settlement and privatization of
A great deal has been written about the privatization process in
Maasailands (e.g. see Kituyi 1990, 1993, Rigby 1992, Rutten 1992). I
treat privatization here because it is of primary importance to
economic and ecological conditions defining the modern Maasai and
because a thorough analysis of conservation policy would be
incomplete without addressing Maasai land tenure systems.
Privatization first entered the
Maasai consciousness through a few educated ‘progressive’ Maasai
looking for a way to secure tenure against continual agricultural
encroachment (Rutten 1992). Although land was initially granted as
individual ranches, the colonial government quickly opted for a
system of group ranches over individual ownership to assure that
those looking for title were not doing so as land speculation. By
this time the colonial government was interested in securing title
for the Maasai, having had trouble enforcing laws prohibiting
settlement by non-Maasai on Maasai land. However, the government
wanted to assure that privatization was motivated by a desire to
improve rangeland conditions and join the market economy through
The idea of a group ranch meant
setting aside a certain piece of land, communally owned by a group
of people recorded and registered as the legal owners through
membership of the particular ranch (Rutten 1992). In contrast with
the past, livestock movements would be restricted within the group
ranch boundaries and nonmembers would be forbidden to bring and
graze their animals. Through the provision of loans for
infrastructural development and steer fattening, an attempt was made
to radically transform the nomadic subsistence-oriented production
of the Maasai pastoralists into a more commercial system. This
market-oriented production was to destock the Maasai pastures while
simultaneously providing meat for the national and international
market. It was thought that this approach would provide an answer to
the drought induced 1960-61 collapse of the Maasai livestock sector,
which ironically wouldn’t have been nearly so severe had the
Maasai had access to their former dry-season rangelands.
Initially foreign to most uneducated
Maasai, privatization received a major boost through the ‘Lawrence
Report’ (Lawrence 1966), a government assessment of the potential
of privatization, and also through World Bank funding of water
supply and dipping facilities (Kituyi 1990). The World Bank
encouraged secure title as a basis for development credit. After
independence, the Kenyan government wanted free market access to
Maasai land. Many Maasai received land title only to quickly sell
out to Kikuyu agriculturists, precisely what the colonial government
was attempting to avoid through group ranches. Government attitude
followed two tendencies:
“On one hand is the implied
notion that development is only possible when nomadic people are
settled, and on the other is the thinking that lands occupied by
nomadic groups can be expropriated if and when the production of
important crops so requires.” (Kituyi 1990:p.96)
A sudden demand for wheat and barley
by Kenya’s new middle class inspired investment in Green
Revolution technologies converting to agriculture land that had
forever been considered too dry for agriculture, making Narok
District Kenya’s leading producer of both wheat and barley by the
Several policy motives are
interacting in this case. Maasai have pursued gains in their
security and standard of living primarily through informal and
unsophisticated political means. The most effective political voice
Maasai raise is through spearings of wildlife or raids of towns and
offices of those who oppose or hinder them. Without a fair education
in the political environment in which they act and with a long
history of mistrust from broken promises, the Maasai view the
individual titling of land as at least something secure, even if it
is not sufficient to support them. Meanwhile, the World Bank and
international development agencies have pursued privatization of
Maasai land intent on the Maasai then producing cattle for a market
economy. It appears that hopes of economic growth have collided with
a lack of cultural or ecological understanding. Encouraging titling
for rural development credit may appear a promising development
model, but when the title recipient sells out and moves to the city
or to what community land is left, a cultural and ecological
disintegration ensues. Maasai neither have the facilities or the
understanding of monetary systems to be able to invest land sale
income to their long term benefit, and market linkages are not
promising with poor transport facilities and breeds of cattle better
for enduring arid conditions than for rapid industrial production.
For the Kenyan government intent on
growth in the agricultural sector and adoption of Green Revolution
technologies for production farming, this duplicitous policy
environment pushing Maasai further into the margin proved wildly
successful, at least during the term of Kenyatta’s
Kikuyu-dominated government. With a shift in power back to Maasai
and Kalenjin, Kikuyu and Luo agriculturists have been run out of
these fertile Rift Valley farms en masse (see pg.7). In effect,
short term political gains for tenuously powerful tribes have lead
to long term land tenure insecurity. Kenya’s economy burst ahead
during the 1960’s as the model for the Africa of the 21st century.
But, some of that growth now appears to have been borrowed against
future social instability.
Beyond a rapid marginalization and a
loss of cultural viability, land privatization caused the Maasai to
cease the migration which had fit so well into East Africa’s
alkali and volcanic soil ecology. Maasai migrations essentially
paralleled those of the large ungulate herds (Western 1997). Despite
many claims to the contrary, Maasai cattle did compete with wild
ungulates, but not to any damaging extent: the crucial factor is
maintaining rangeland quality. By ceasing migrations, the Maasai
were forced into an unsustainable ecology. With construction of
fences and overgrazing, potential for wildlife is reduced as
evidenced by declines in wild animal populations over this century.
The carrying capacity of the land is reduced for Maasai, their
livestock, and wildlife simultaneously. Where watering facilities
have been installed, the effect is often substantially worse.
The ramifications of Maasailand
fragmentation run deeper still. Maasai lost their best dry-season
range shortly after colonization. Whether the land remaining in
Maasai control is sustainable for their populations is an open
question. But with each group or family further fragmented and
restricted to grazing their own parcel, unsustainability is assured
(see Figure II). A study conducted by the Range Management Project
suggests that managing smaller land units on rangelands may be
impracticable. Of 14 group ranches surveyed in the Kaputiei area,
only six contained sufficient dry-season grazing to be managed as
self-contained units (Ole Parkipuny and Berger 1993). A clear
ramification is that Maasai can no longer be only pastoral (Berger
1993). Economic diversification is necessary, and has happened to a
limited extent. A common string of events is for younger Maasai to
receive land title, sell the land and move to Nairobi, finding
employment in low level jobs, particularly as night watchmen. Other
options are self-employment through the tourist trade.
Concentrations of Maasai villages have developed on regular tourist
routes and around the borders of parks and reserves, selling curios,
selling themselves for photographs and taking advantage of what
services have been provisioned by park money. A conflict here is
increased grazing pressure on the immediate border of parks and
reserves. Land outside the Masai Mara has been degraded so severely
over the past decade that only a few scattered gazelle are found
living between the sheep and goats who can stomach what unpalatable
brush does still grow (pers. obs.). This conflict is clear to the
tourist, who readily blames the Maasai for overstocking in a typical
‘Tragedy of the Commons’. When pressed as to the source of park
degradation, Maasai overgrazing is the typical government answer (Spence
FIGURE II Kajiado
District Group Ranches and 1990 Subdivision Status (Rutten 1992)
The conflict between Maasai and the
parks has been well publicized, without understanding of deeper
roots. The net effect on Kenya’s economy is severely negative when
political strife and violence combine with a few high profile
spearings or Maasai action against tourists. Because tourism is
Kenya’s largest earner of foreign exchange, Kenya can ill afford
anything that reduces it. Yet from 1990 to 1993, total tourism
receipts dropped 11%, from $466 million to $413 million. The decline
was due primarily to fears regarding safety as ethnic and political
violence broke out around 1992 elections, not due to any direct
problem with the park system. Much of the violence occurred in the
Narok district involving hired and incited Maasai as discussed above.
To briefly summarize the
privatization process, differing motives found common means through
privatization. From the 1950’s through 1960’s, rapid expansion
of the idea left all Maasai land designated into group or individual
parcels. Essentially no planning proceeded the ad hoc designation
process, so group ranches forced together incompatible family
groupings and left many ranches vulnerable to co-option by a few
powerful Maasai, who were then able to channel all infrastructure
development funds to their personal benefit. Dissatisfaction with
the group ranch arrangement was already clear in the 1960’s. With
international development interests encouraging privatization and a
Kenyan desire for free market access to Maasai land, fragmentation
continued still further. Today the Maasai are left with
approximately 100 hectares each, although parcels are by no means
equally divided. On the surface this appears to be an extremely low
population density. What must be understood is the utter
unsustainability of small parcel cattle production without migration
or rangeland on a scale untenable for Kenya.
Wildlife conservation in
From the perspective of analyzing policy, conservation in Amboseli
National Park and the Masai Mara Game Reserve together present a
very interesting case where the institutional intention was clearly
for conservation. Even if so motivated only because conservation
equates with tourism dollars, policy failure can be seen as
technical failures rather than failures resulting from inappropriate
objectives or competing mandates. Consider Amboseli, with 100,000
visitors a year and earnings from gate fees alone of 9,000,000 Kenya
shillings(6). If conservation in a landscape with a human component
should succeed anywhere, it should be here.
The government and conservation
community have flip-flopped numerous times in Kenya’s modern
history over whether or not Maasai are compatible with wildlife and
therefore can be allowed in reserves. National Parks have always
been closed to Maasai, with the occasional exception of access to
watering holes and forage in times of severe drought. This policy in
Amboseli National Park has resulted in repeated spearings and direct
conflict. Failure of conservation policy can be traced to two basic
attitudes from the government and conservation community:
- Mining mentality towards wildlife
and park resources, and
- Protectionist western attitude of
segregation between wildlife and people.
Kenya is credited as the birthplace of ‘safari’. This historical
legacy has brought tourism to Kenya in such steadily growing numbers
that all the government had to do was designate some protection,
sell wildlife hunting permits at phenomenal prices and allow foreign
investment to build a tourism infrastructure. Especially because
Kenya has been more politically stable historically and more open to
foreign investment and influence than other African countries, there
was little competition for the tourism market, even though wildlife
there was every bit as spectacular. Almost no income was reinvested
in the resource: of $285,000 earned by the Kajiado County Council in
1969 from gate receipts and hotel fees, only $7100 was spent on
maintenance of park facilities in Amboseli (Western 1997). Even once
Amboseli became a national park, all proceeds went to the central
treasury and little was returned for operation expenses. Furthermore,
most major conservation projects in Kenya and much investment in
infrastructure has come from international funding. Not only have
the central and local governments captured massive natural resource
rents, international conservation interests have subsidized park
protection. Annual assistance to park management totals about a
million dollars annually (Shete 1997). International funding, while
effective for achieving conservation, has allowed the government to
retain nearly all direct park proceeds, as well as much revenue from
tourism spent outside parks.
Unlike most areas of the world,
wildlife tourism in Kenya generates sufficient revenue to justify
conservation purely on economic grounds. Consider the following
calculations: 82% of Kenya’s $500 million tourism industry is for
leisure, recreation and holidays (WTO 1996). If we conservatively
estimate 60% of this is drawn by the parks and wildlife (as opposed
to the beaches, or ‘cultural tourism’), the annual income from
Kenya’s wildlife is $300 million, or approximately $85 per
protected hectare. To take this calculation further, about 10% of
Kenya’s parks receive by far the majority of visitation, the same
parks for which competing uses are so vocal. Just on that estimate,
revenue from frequently visited parks equals $850 per hectare(7).
The Masai Mara Game Reserve and Amboseli National Park are the most
popular of Kenya’s parks, probably worth even more. A calculation
of economic potential for Amboseli National Park under different
land usage is shown in Table I.
Table I Gross
revenue from existing and potential uses of Amboseli National Park
as calculated in 1973 (Western 1997).
(cash returns only)
and commercial livestock potential
While on the national level wildlife
as a natural resource has certainly not been undervalued, Kenya has
failed to perceive development outside the parks and a lack of
investment in park management as a threat to this massive natural
resource rent. But 80% of Kenya’s wildlife lies outside the parks.
Amboseli National Park contains only 6.5% of the 6000 km2 Amboseli
ecosystem (see Figure II). Without these surrounding areas, wildlife
populations are unsustainable. And yet as Kenya’s main tourist
attraction faces a crisis of ecological unsustainability, Kenya must
suddenly compete for tourist dollars now being drawn to Tanzania,
Uganda and southern African countries. While these previously
unattractive countries have not caused any decline in Kenya’s
tourism income, Tanzania in particular has certainly slowed its
The arrogance of assuming tourism is
a guaranteed source of income is evidenced in the government’s
Sessional Paper No. 1 of 1986, the foundation for the 1988-92
Development Plan, in which the contribution of wildlife conservation
and tourism to national development was not even mentioned! Kenya's
economic policy toward conservation reflects a lack of
interdisciplinary understanding and intersectoral planning. This
shortsightedness has caused both a general lack of integrated
effective policy and specific on the ground failures. Failure to
perceive a need for reinvestment has come in the form of
under-provisioned and underpaid guards unable even to fuel vehicles
for patrolling. Small maintenance shortcomings have cost
conservation dearly. For example, the World Bank in 1976 funded a
Wildlife and Tourism Project to implement the Amboseli Park Plan, an
innovative and progressive plan developed with unprecedented
participation from the surrounding Maasai. Because the Maasai would
lose access to crucial watering points by establishment of the park,
a pipeline was built taking water from springs within the park to
areas outside the park boundary. This alleviated the conflicting
demands of water for Maasai cattle and tourism wanting the clichéd
‘vast unpopulated wilderness.’ After four years of successful
cooperation, the system began to break down for lack of maintenance
and fuel for the pump. Again betrayed by broken promises, Maasai
illegally entered the park, speared animals in protest and speared
the PVC pipeline in hopes of getting some water.
Central government oversight also has
fallen short in perceiving impacts of tourism and limitations to
growth. The Maasai Mara, Amboseli, Tsavo East and Samburu Game
Reserve are commonly cited as the most overrun parks in the world.
Maasai Mara in particular, for not being a national park, has very
loose policies toward tourism. Tourist vehicles are still allowed to
drive off established roads, for example. In a free-for-all, drivers
relentlessly pursue sensitive wildlife in hopes of bigger tips.
Tourism has degraded the very attractiveness of the Mara. With far
better management, Tanzania is becoming an increasingly more
attractive destination for tourist still looking for a wilderness
experience. Kenya has looked to maximize growth of the tourist
industry with no consideration for impacts on parks, as illustrated
by the failed goal of 1 million tourists annually by 1990.
Protectionist western conservation
Beginning with colonial powers, a segregated and paternalistic
attitude has pervaded Kenyan conservation. With the first outlawing
of hunting without a permit and with designation of reserves for
wildlife only, Kenyans were given no cause to value protected areas,
immediately put in competition with wildlife for resources. All park
protection has come from the government in a top-down, impositional
manner, with only recent moves to compensate for loss of land or
damage from wildlife. Independence began to change this attitude,
but the National Parks especially maintained a protectionist
approach with European game wardens and military trained Kenyan
staff (Berger 1993). By the time retribution for wildlife damages
and the idea of revenue sharing finally took hold, Maasai were well
aquatinted with broken promises and less willing to work with
attempts at cooperation.
The attitude that locals had little
legitimate claim to park resources has prevailed through the
administration of Richard Leakey, very resistant to revenue sharing
programs and therefore unwilling to demand the same kind of capacity
for payment distribution as was demanded for anti-poaching efforts.
Internal park management capacity has been a focus of investment but
relations between parks and people have been all but ignored until
very recently. Wildlife conservation outside parks has similarly
been overlooked. WCMD failed to perceive the link between rangeland
quality on a landscape scale and preservation of wildlife. Without
this ecosystem perspective, conservation was in favor of Maasailand
privatization to take pressure off the parks, while this is the very
policy which has degraded rangeland on a landscape scale.
Conservation has regularly claimed the best land, acting in unison
with encroaching agriculture to further marginalize the Maasai. Left
only with the poorest quality rangelands, the Maasai are then blamed
The Maasai have lived with wildlife
for their entire history, and certainly they have changed animal
abundance and habitat character, but have not threatened the
existence of any known species. Western society has come to value
that wildlife, a positive externality the Maasai have maintained
through not hunting and not converting land to agriculture.
Traditional nomadic Maasai required no payment for maintaining the
positive externality of wildlife. With changing socioeconomic
conditions, Maasai have come to conflict with wildlife directly and
with western institutions designed to preserve wildlife and their
ecosystems. Now, with Kenya’s largest industry based on the
positive externality that the Maasai have maintained, restitution is
necessary if the wildlife and wildlife tourism industry is to last.
Revenue sharing programs
Uncompensated establishment of parks in Maasailand and lack of
compensation for wildlife damages on people living around parks
caused severe antagonism early in the history of Kenyan conservation.
After independence with a government more sympathetic to the rights
of the rural African, payments for damages began. However, payments
have been inconsistent and at times ceased altogether. The
allocation system has always been plagued by unwieldy bureaucracy
and paperwork. In further attempts to compensate surrounding
peoples, a system of revenue sharing was enacted in the late
seventies in several parks. Revenue sharing has similarly fallen
prey to a lack of accountability, leaving those whose grazing rights
were taken with no compensation. Inefficiency in the system is
reflective of more than a corrupt bureaucracy: just retribution has
never been a priority for park management, with no clear feedback
loop between uncompensated Maasai and loss of park revenue. In 1981,
the simultaneous ceasing of payment for damages and lost grazing
rights, along with lack of maintenance of the Amboseli water pipe
left Maasai without option but to illegally retake grazing and
watering rights lost to the park.
The Narok County Council receives all
revenue from Maasai Mara gate entrance fees and a percentage of
hotel revenues. The council is the most stable in the country with
revenues from the park estimated at upwards of 1 million Kenya
shillings per month(8) (Talbot & Olindo 1990). For Amboseli
National Park, KWS has recently agreed to share 25% of all gate fees
with surrounding group ranches(9) (Western 1997). Without revenue
sharing, Maasai income is limited to sales of charcoal and gravel,
and campsite fees totaling 160,000 Ksh/year (Talbot & Olindo
1990). Before establishment as a national park, the Kajiado County
Council received Amboseli Game Reserve revenue, $285,000 in 1969.
Both county councils were politically very strong with jurisdiction
over all district lands until the mid-1970s saw consolidation of
power in the central government and individualization of group
ranches. Revenue sharing quickly become a rent capture mechanism for
local governments with little money or services actually getting to
the Maasai who lost land to the parks. Kajiado County Council in
particular, located 150 km from Amboseli, was far removed from
immediate concerns of rural Maasai. Court disputes over money
unaccounted for and laundered through ‘fake contractors’ have
arisen against the council from disenfranchised Maasai (Kahindi
1993). The Kajiado County Council was 70% funded by Amboseli before
made into a national park (Western 1997). Narok County Council is
90% funded by the Masai Mara Game Reserve (Berger 1993). No
accounting transparency exists for the councils, and what money was
put to development was usually funneled to projects benefiting the
politically powerful far away from rural Maasai concerns.
ASSESSMENT OF FAILURES
Consequences of failures
The cost Kenya will have to pay for a history of political
shortsightedness is uncertain, depending on future political
stability, the tourist market, and how resilient Kenya’s savanna
ecosystems prove to be. The Maasai have paid dearly since the
colonial period, both through Kenyan policy failure and very
successful policy designed to coopt their resources. As a nomadic
tribe, Maasai have fared far better than most native groups around
the world. Their numbers are believed to have tripled to about
150,000 since the turn of the century. Culturally and economically
however, their prospects are not very bright. With degraded
rangeland, little economic opportunity and limited access to
education, many young Maasai move to Nairobi only to join the urban
Conservation has not yet been
sacrificed by ecosystem fragmentation, although impacts could be
delayed through ecological complexity. The future health of Kenyan
tourism is difficult to estimate, being a function of political
stability, world economic conditions, competition from other
countries, and conservation success. Kenya has realized massive
natural resource rents through tourism but these rents are
decreasing as competition heightens and the opportunity cost of
conservation rises. Present conservation efforts are insufficient to
maintain wildlife in the long term because so much wildlife depends
on areas outside parks and reserves. It is uncertain how much
wildlife can be lost before ecosystems degrade beyond recovery and
tourism is lost to other countries. It may be that past rent capture
was not policy failure on the large scale, if conservation can rise
to current challenges and Kenya can maintain the tourism industry.
How things should have been
Much can be said about how Kenya should have governed development of
Maasailand and wildlife resources, but in light of political and
social conditions, many mistakes were inevitable. Government has
always, and continues to lack capacity to govern with any
interdisciplinary cohesion. Failures in developing institutional
capacity have been much discussed and are beyond the scope of this
report. Institutional failures notwithstanding, the science of
ecosystem management is still in its infancy, and most management of
Kenyan parks has been translated from US National Park management,
with utterly incompatible socioeconomic differences. Kenya for its
part has maintained wildlife outside parks to an extent incomparable
to the United States, because groups like the Maasai have
historically been compatible with wildlife.
Failures that can be criticized given
a realistic historical context include a lack of even minimal
reinvestment, cultural insensitivity, and the paternalistic
conservation mentality of segregation. The most clear case is with
the Amboseli pipeline, where a small investment in maintenance would
have curtailed reconstruction costs, sustained cooperative
agreements with the Maasai and avoided direct conflicts like
wildlife spearings. With international conservation interests
funding Kenya’s protected areas, coordination and oversight should
have established some transparency in park revenue accounting
procedures. Always focusing on the immediacy of threats to the
animals, insufficient effort has gone to establishing a functional
park management regime.
Cultural insensitivity is to blame
where inappropriate development models have been imposed upon the
Maasai. From the Kenyan government, motives of displacement were
calculated. The World Bank on the other hand was wrong in
encouraging privatization where institutional capacity was
insufficient to limit exploitation by the powerful. An ad hoc
process of issuing land title was completely inappropriate where
centuries of tribal arrangement had already segregated land between
clans and families. Development, in effect, was something that
happened to the Maasai, rather than any intentional process.
Conservation interests should have
seen that trying to transplant western models of park management was
inappropriate. In some cases, militancy about park protection has
been essential: anti-poaching efforts were inept against armed gangs
of poachers until well-trained, well-equipped guards were instructed
to shoot on sight. Every African park where rhinos and elephants
still survive now has a shoot-on-sight policy, effectively
eliminating poaching. But the same mentality applied to surrounding
populations has set conservation back severely.
How things should be
A Pareto optimality is our goal. Table I clearly illustrates that
conservation and tourism will remain a major contributor. Kenyan
conservation is intimately tied to the Maasai and how they utilize
their land. But no solution can outright fix past policy failures
and resurrect Maasai independence; Maasai have changed as a culture
and have lost too much of their best land to return to nomadic
pastoralism. Higher population densities and changed cattle
rotations mean Maasai now heavily impact the land they occupy.
Maasai are no longer compatible within protected areas, with the
possible exception of narrow corridors for water access or emergency
drought forage. To say that Maasai can still coexist with wildlife
without impact is to perceive the Maasai as a static culture outside
modern economic concerns. An example of this is in Namelok, an area
adjacent to Amboseli: incorporated as a group ranch in the 1970’s,
the swamps were immediately drained for farming and wildlife was
driven out so that all was gone by 1980 (Western 1997). Therefore,
conservation is not well served by digging in proverbial heels to
insist on absolute segregation, but multiple uses are no longer
It has become quite popular to bash
conservation interests for an insensitivity to the needs of local
peoples, but it should be recognized that conservation has only been
a small, albeit visible force marginalizing the Maasai. Agricultural
development, especially under the colonial and Kenyatta governments,
was by far the largest force of change. But to the Maasai, this land
is lost.(10) This puts the burden of de-marginalizing the Maasai
largely on conservation interests. Fortunately the income generated
by parks and tourism is more than sufficient if revenue sharing and
other developments can realign who gains from tourism with who pays
for lost land. The positive externality of wildlife on Maasai land
needs accounting for. Shared revenue should provide services and
direct payment for Maasai, in an amount not to exceed their
opportunity cost for lost land. Community development projects have
frequently made the error of over-providing and thereby attracting
more people to the border or buffer zone of the park they wish to
protect. Revenue sharing requires Maasai participation to understand
actual need, and an allocation mechanism that is less vulnerable to
corruption than past systems. Park revenue and funding has been
frequently lost to corruption in part because no feedback loops or
market signals exist to show depletion of the natural resource base.
Wildlife must come to have value enough on Maasai land that it is
worth saving. Community-based tourism projects have strong potential
to provide income for rural Maasai, especially as ‘ecotourism’
gains popularity. Other possibilities are harvesting game meat and
hunting safaris. Small scale projects are currently experimenting
with all of these, and deserve more attention by the conservation
Kenya must eliminate reactionary and
conflicting policy not designed on an interdisciplinary basis.
Settlement of the Maasai, for example, motivated by World Bank
pressure and a call for land tenure security among the Maasai was
counterproductive because it proceeded too rapidly and without
concern for Maasai tribal structure.
Management and governing capacity
must be built within the park system and for the government as a
whole. For parks, this means more consistent, secure and transparent
funding. While internal funding from gate and hotel fees has its
problems, this would eliminate insufficient reinvestment as the
current system of central treasury allocation promotes. Individual
projects such as the Amboseli pipeline should be secure with
individual trust funds for long term maintenance.
It should be noted that investment in
park management capacity is not merely an additional expenses
consuming profits from the parks. Present lack of capacity
short-circuits Kenya’s ability to obtain full resource rents from
wildlife. One of the most valuable goods African wildlife produces
is ivory, valued at $50 to $100 per pound depending on market
conditions. Because elephants produce more ivory per year as they
get older (up to 2.2 kg/yr for bulls over age 25), recent modeling
has shown that the most profitable way to harvest ivory is to allow
elephants to live into old age, die naturally and collect the ivory.
Far short of this, Kenya is so rife with corruption it cannot even
sell ivory confiscated from poachers and assure the money gets to
the central treasury. Kenya has destroyed more than $5,000,000 in
confiscated ivory and rhino horn since the inception of KWS. This
sum almost equals the amount international conservation foundations
have contributed to protection efforts over the same time period.
Improved management of both external
conflicts and the internal impacts of tourism are essential to
maintain tourism. The drop in tourism income in the early 1990’s
came as a wake-up call to the Kenyan government, although their
reaction so far has been little more than a marketing effort through
KWS. Hopefully concern over the tourism market can leverage greater
action. The tourism industry needs good regulation, and development
of tourism facilities requires assessment of park capacity.
Conservation in Kenya must be
assessed from a landscape approach. Policy must address the
unsustainability of current grazing systems. More sustainable
systems which share many privatized plots are being attempted,
possibilities deserving of more attention.
Because Maasai are still seasonally
nomadic in some areas, creating access to education and service
remains a constant challenge. The Kenyan government must recognize
that seasonal migration is by far the most productive pastoral
system without infrastructure, and must leave behind the tribal
prejudice viewing nomads as ‘primitive’.
Finally, while much of conservation
policy failure in Kenya is due to technical problems, a national
perspective is essential. As long as tribally motivated injustice
fuels civil strife and violence for the political and economic gain
of a few, Kenya will never achieve the stability necessary for
effective interdisciplinary policy and a healthy economy.
Amnesty International, Index: AFR
Berger, D. J. 1993. Wildlife
Extension. Acts Press, Nairobi
Human Rights Watch/Africa. 1993.
Divide and Rule: State-Sponsored Ethnic Violence in Kenya. Human
Rights Watch, New York.
Asiema, J. K. and F. D. P. Situma,
1994, Indigenous Peoples and the Environment: The Case of the
Pastoral Maasai of Kenya, in Endangered Peoples: Indigenous Rights
and the Environment. Colorado Journal of International Environmental
Law. University Press of Colorado, Niwot, CO
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1. Ungulates are hoofed animals, a
general term used for mammals belonging to the former order Ungulata.
2. Kalenjin were the main
constituents of KADU, the Kenya African Democratic Union.
3. KANU stands for Kenya African
National Union, the ruling party.
4. A large Black Rhino horn in Yemen
can sell for upwards of $50,000. Primarily for status symbols, a
market for rhino horn dagger handles has motivated well-armed
organized gangs to decimate East Africa’s rhino population at
unprecedented rates. Black Rhinos have been extirpated from all but
a few very well- guarded parks and some areas too vast for poachers
to find the last animals. Populations stand well below 1% former
5. Safina (meaning “Ark”) has
been heavily persecuted from the outset as with many opposition
parties, but appeared to be gaining steam regardless until
Leakey’s number one man, a Kenyan lawyer, joined KANU. There is
strong cause to believe the rumor that he was motivated by both
bribe and personal safety. While still director of KWS, Leakey was
involved in a plane crash in which he lost his legs. Sabotage is
likely, with a number of possible saboteurs. His most unpopular goal
was to designate many game reserves as national parks, taking
revenue as well as control away from local county councils and
directing it to the central government.
6. 9,000,000 Kenya shillings is
about $260,000 in 1990 dollars.
7. This figure for the most popular
parks is still probably conservative because the most frequently
visited parks are some of the smallest, while the parks which
account for most of Kenya’s 3,504,000 protected hectares are in
remote marginal lands without strong competing demands for use.
8. 1 million Ksh equals about $30,000
in 1990 dollars, 160,000 Ksh is $4500.
9. This figure, 25% of gate receipts
from Amboseli National Park, is the estimated opportunity cost
incurred on surrounding group ranches of land lost to the park.
10. The land is lost, with the
exception of land taken in raids displacing Kikuyu and Luo from the
northern Narok District and southern Kenyan Rift Valley. These gains
however are tenuous at best, with severe consequences to the Kenyan
economy. Even where no land is actually gained for the Maasai, raids
do serve a long term purpose in discouraging further immigration by
Kikuyu and Luos.