Maasai and Wildlife Conservation changes

Because of their large population and vast amounts of land, they have been affected by more park creation than any other people in East Africa. They have been exiled by Nairobi National Park and the reserves at Amboseli, Maasai Mara, Serengeti, Ngorongoro and Lake Manyara. The separation of man and wildlife is beginning to have negative consequences for both. Many of the parks are being strangled by development along their borders, some of it controlled by Maasai farmers. The remaining Maasai pastoralists are forced to compete with neighbouring farmers for land. Since Maasai culture revolves around cattle herding, it is significantly threatened by the loss of land. More and more, a lion will attack a herd of cattle and get killed in retaliation.

MAASAI

deangichuki

9/2/2021 2 min read

green leaf tree near mountain covered by snow at daytime

The Maasai have not fared well in modern Africa. Until the European settlers arrived, fierce Maasai tribes occupied the most fertile lands. The Maasai struggled to preserve their territory, but their spears were no match for armed British troops, and their leaders never had a fair chance in British negotiations. In 1904, the Maasai signed their first agreement, losing the best of their land to the European settlers. Seven years later, in 1911, a very controversial agreement was signed by a small group of Maasai, where their best Northern land (Laikipia) was given up to white settlers. With these two treaties, the Maasai lost about two-thirds of their land and were relocated to less fertile parts of Kenya and Tanzania. Less land for an ever-growing Kenyan population means less land for the Maasai, their livestock, and wildlife

Because of their large population and vast amounts of land, they have been affected by more park creation than any other people in East Africa. They have been exiled by Nairobi National Park and the reserves at Amboseli, Maasai Mara, Serengeti, Ngorongoro and Lake Manyara. The separation of man and wildlife is beginning to have negative consequences for both. Many of the parks are being strangled by development along their borders, some of it controlled by Maasai farmers. The remaining Maasai pastoralists are forced to compete with neighbouring farmers for land. Since Maasai culture revolves around cattle herding, it is significantly threatened by the loss of land. More and more, a lion will attack a herd of cattle and get killed in retaliation.

The development of natural reserves also brought about an influx of tourist activities. In most cases, Maasai recognize that they were forced from their land without compensation in order to create parks, in part for tourists. The tourism industry, however, tends to be highly centralized; tourists usually pay for their excursions in advance and use the facilities located within the park. Most Maasai benefit very little from the influx of international visitors. Nevertheless, some Maasai have been able to capitalize on the tourist trade and have become wealthy. Local Maasai control the revenues of the reserve at Maasai Mara, and Amboseli has also accrued economic benefits to the local peoples. In some areas, the Maasai themselves are tourist attractions, posing for photos and working in tourist facilities. Despite some economic benefits, tourism has not helped the majority of Maasai.

This leaves the Maasai at the short end of a very lucrative deal. How they’ve been able to sustain their population and thrive as one of the groups of people that have held on to their culture this long is a science that the world populations should study. They were literally handed lemons and made lemonade.