Disturbing news from Kenya

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Sep 30th, 2005, 05:07 PM
  #1
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Disturbing news from Kenya

From tonight's Daily Nation, President Kibaki has just returned Amboseli National Park to the Maasai and it will now become Amboseli National Reserve.

http://www.nationmedia.com/dailynati...1&newsid=58374

This has some very disturbing implications for wildlife. He is rewarding the very same people who have tortured the rhinos, lions and elephants in that area for years and will be making them the stewards of wildlife!! Supposedly this was done to try and buy YES votes for their new constitution.

The good news is that KWS just completed the first phase of translocating 150 elephants from Shimba Hills to Tsavo. They will wait until January after the rainy reason to translocate another 150 - 250.

We'll all have to keep our fingers crossed that this can be worked out for the better.

Jan
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Oct 2nd, 2005, 04:18 AM
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Jan, thanks for the information, but I think there is more to the story.
Amboseli is traditional Maasai land from which they were evicted - as they had been earlier from the Serengeti and Ngorongoro. With their pastoral lifestyle they coexisted with wildlife when my farmer ancestors were exterminating wolves. I would myself have no trouble strangling an elephant spearing Maasai, but this behaviour has its explanation in a history of severe injustices and the not completely unjustified feeling among many Maasai (and other Kenyans) that the government values wildlife more than it values poor people – though of course not as much as it values the pockets of people with power. The Amboseli ecosystem is a lot bigger than the smallish Amboseli NP (now NR) and the worst threat to wildlife would be Maasai lands swallowed up by commercial farming (already happening). I think more revenue and power directly to the Maasai community is the best recipe to keep agriculture away and the migration routes open. The problem is that this is a panic decision taken to buy Maasai yes votes to the referendum on a new constitution. If promises aren’t kept elephants that know nothing about politics – at least not human politics – could have to pay with their lives.
I’m no expert. I haven’t even been to Amboseli, but this is my impression.
Worst of all: What will happen when (I don’t think there’s an “if” here) the snows of Kilimanjaro disappear?

Good news about the translocation. Though I’m sad that 5 elephants died.



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Oct 2nd, 2005, 06:38 AM
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jan, recieved email today from someone you know well over in kenya. this is part of it.
talk soon, david

We are all stunned by the news on Amboseli - who knows what the future is, it is unbelievable that a politician can barter with the countries National Parks for his own political gain.
Best wishes
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Oct 2nd, 2005, 04:09 PM
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Nyamera:

Though part of what you say is true, the Maasai in the Amboseli area haven't
co-existed with wildlife for a long time now. They have already wiped out all the rhinos and many of the lion prides. More and more people are moving into the very area that has been an elephant corridor for years. If this "gift" to the Maasai happens, there will be thousands of other Maasai moving into the area to get a part of the $250 million that Amboseli brings in each year. Four years ago when I first went to Amboseli there were very few houses surrounding the park. This has now become quite built up. They had to have known when they built their houses there that it was elephant country. They are putting in gardens, small and large. They are continuing to bring thousands of cattle into the park every day. The ecology of the park has changed due to the grazing of the cattle.

I was so concerned a year ago that I asked one of the Maasai if he thought other Maasai would be willing to sell their "Maasai" property abutting Amboseli at an acre at a time. I was willing to buy and got people here in the U.S. interesting in buying 5 or 10 acres with the understanding no animals would be allowed and no gardens put in. In that way we could create corridors for the wildlife. Then several Kenyas told me not to dream about it. They said the Maasai couldn't be trusted to keep their word and the paper the agreement would be written on would be worthless. Thus taking the advice of people in the know in Kenya, I have done nothing further about this.

The elephants have been paying with their lives for years. Hopefully it won't be another holocaust. People don't realize that the more you box wildlife in, by building all around the parks and reserves, the more incidences of injuries and deaths to humans there will be.

Me thinks the prexy had a little too much bubbly before making this decision. Just like he offered to give hundreds of Kenyan animals to Thailand, without thinking of the consequences to wildlife or people.

Let us all hope and pray that something good can come out of this, for wildlife and the Maasai together.

Dave: - thanks for the note. I got one from a friend in KWS also with as much consternation and surprise. No one can believe this!

Jan
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Oct 3rd, 2005, 05:11 PM
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The word from all fronts in Kenya is to please have anyone who has traveled to Kenya, or has already planned a trip to bombard the government with mail and email about this. Even KWS didn't know about this move. David Western, a former KWS head, who has in the past favored the Maasai, says it is an illegal move. Kenya Wildlife Service will no longer be in charge of Amboseli. All the Maasai from around Kenya will now be wanting to move into the area to get a share of the income derived. Already other groups and tribes have said they want their parks also. Taita-Taveta people want Tsavo, Kwale wants Shimba Hills and Kisite marine park, etc.,etc.

As we all know, any money derived from this move will go into very few deep pockets and will not benefit the people themselves. And it is like the fox watching the henhouse with the Maasai in charge of wildlife and KWS gone.

This has opened a Pandora's box regarding wildlife in general. And, if KWS is no longer in charge in Amboseli, the safety of us tourists will also be in question.

Please email President Kibaki explaining your deep concern and possible change of safari plans at:
[email protected]

Also send a copy to Minister Morris Dzoro at:
[email protected]

This is a very serious and illegal matter. No one person can legally degazette a park without parliaments OK and yet it has been done. The future of wildlife and the safety of us tourists is now at stake.

Since I have had requests from so many people in Kenya the last two days asking me to beg everyone to write, I am doing so. I don't know whether it will do any good or not. However, because of Kenya's needing its tourism very badly, perhaps they will start to listen when enough tourists express their horror and disappointment.

Jan
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Oct 3rd, 2005, 07:25 PM
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Jan-sorry if this sounds naive or stupid, but what would/should I say when emailing the president/Minister? I've never emailed an official before and don't know what to say? i'd be glad to help but need advice.
Thanks,
Dennis
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Oct 4th, 2005, 02:27 AM
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Dennis:

I would simply address the email one to Dear President Kibaki and another to Dear Minister Dzoro. Then state your disappointment at the decision of returning a national park to a specific tribe or people living in that area. Once this is done for one group all other tribes/people will be wanting the same from their local parks. Wildlife WILL be affected negatively. With no rangers protecting the wildlife the natives will be free to do as they wish with the wildlife in the area. They will also bring thousands more cattle into the park further ruining the ecology of the park. And lastly, but perhaps mostly importantly, there will be no security within the park to protect tourists from danger from animals or people. Things like the airstrip will deteriorate as well as the roads within the park. This has so many implications that we arent' even thinking about now.

As one person wrote me, the parks as they are currently set up, are for the benefit of all Kenyans. Income derived from each national park goes into a general fund so all Kenyans benefit from funds raised from our tourism. This will now change and go into a very few deep pockets. Where the number of lodges/camps has been controlleld to date, this too will change because a few individuals will be able to receive payoffs to have new places built.

This has such serious implications that it isn't right that one or two people make a decision like this that can effect so many people. It is supposed to be voted on by parliament thus giving many people a change to air their side of the story. This hasn't happened.

Any note one can write letting people know the world is watching and is concerned about this ruling will help.

Thanks for your willingness to help Dennis. It will be much appreciated by all Kenyans.

Jan
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Oct 4th, 2005, 04:36 AM
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Jan

I will also write an email, I'll do it tomorrow as I'll be working from home... am at client site today, checking email and net in a break.

I will add a note to point out that, while conservation decisions continue to be made on a political basis, such as this case, I will seriously reconsider my plans to visit Kenya in 2006 and in the future and will also encourage those I know to do likewise and visit countries who demonstrate clearly that they are protecting and valueing their flora and fauna.
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Oct 4th, 2005, 06:27 AM
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Kavey:

Thank you so very much.

Your thoughts and ideas are perfect.

Though small, Amboseli is a special place (though not without its problems even currently). To think they are putting people with absolutely no experience running anything in charge is devestating.

Thank you for caring.

Jan
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Oct 4th, 2005, 06:59 AM
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Jan,
This may be a stupid question, but aren't the Masai Mara and Samburu classified as National Reserves and also managed by the local Masai/Samburu councils? Has it had a negative impact on the wildlife in those reserves? Does KWS maintain a presence there?
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Oct 4th, 2005, 10:16 AM
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tried to send letter to pres. kibaki but comes back undeliverable saysquot;maildir over quota" but the one to minister dzoro went through.
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Oct 4th, 2005, 10:43 AM
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Dennis,
Same thing happened to me. I will try to resend tomorrow.

This is a terrible shame; I had already made up my mind that my next safari (after June 2006) would be to Kenya--primarily for the elephants!
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Oct 4th, 2005, 01:29 PM
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Patty:

Samburu is indeed a reserve and not a national park. Under colonial rule in 1906 Amboseli was the Southern Game Reserve. In 1948 the area was reduced and was given the name of Amboseli National Reserve. A further change occurred in 1961 when the Maasai County Council ran the park. In 1971, because of concerns for the survival as a conservation area, an area of 390 sq miles surrounding the main swamps in the ecosytem be used exclusively for wildlife and tourism. The Amboseli National Park was established in 1974 and came under the control of the National Parks Trustees.

Per the East African Wildlife Society in the Daily Nation yesterday, "Amboseli has been the responsibility of the Maasai Kajiado county council before and was made made into a national park precisely beause of poor management, encroachment, environmental degradation, non-compliance with national and international conservation policies and interminable wrangling".

None of the Kajiado council or any of the Maasai living in the area have any knowledge of managing wildlife, conservation, tourism, or business acumen.

The other issue that concerns me, perhaps unnessarily, is that with KWS ruling the park entrances and patrolling the areas,the animals as well as the tourists have been relatively safe. If KWS (armed rangers) are no longer present, one wonders how safe the lodges will be in the future. If the Maasai will allow all their people access to the park whenever they want, security to us tourists will go out the window. I hope I am wrong on this stance, but the concern is there.

Jan
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Oct 6th, 2005, 05:33 PM
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ddgattina:

Thank you for taking the time to look into this.

According to tonight's Daily Nation, 28 animal welfare groups have now spoken up again this move. Animals throughout Kenya will all be effected.
Kenya Wildlife Service derived a great deal of its operating income from Amboseli National Park. With Kenya Wildlife Service no longer being involved in AMbobseli, funds for animals all over Kenya will be lacking.

Tonight I received an email from Kenya which I hope each and every one of you will take less than 5 minutes to read and fill in. It is extremely important that President Kibaki know that the world is watching his illegal move and we will forego our trips to Kenya if this is not rectified and the welfare of the animals thought of. Please go to

www.saveamboseli.net, fill in your name and email address and send.

Then we will hope and pray that saner minds prevail.

Many thanks.

Jan
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Oct 6th, 2005, 06:22 PM
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Jan, I got that email too this evening from the Sheldrick people. I want to encourage you Africaphiles to sign the petition on saveamboseli.net. It really does just take about 4 seconds!

And, Dennis, if you're reading this, today I resent my email to President Kibaki and it didn't bounce back. Hopefully yours won't either.
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Oct 7th, 2005, 02:13 AM
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I signed the net petition and also emailed as follows:

Dear President Kibaki

I am writing to express my deep concern over the decision to return Amboseli to the Masaai, downgrading it to a Reserve and removing KWS from their role in it's management.

This move has very serious implications for the environment, ecology and wildlife and shows a lack of concern about one of Kenya's most important resources.

Whilst I am not naive enough to be unaware of the injustices done to Masaai (and other Kenyan peoples) I am also aware of the track record of the Masaai and their failures to respect the agreements made in the past to protect wildlife in other areas. This move will lead to Masaai from all over Kenya relocating to Amboseli and will have a huge and devastating impact on the area as more cattle are introduced to the area, more homes and gardens are created etc.

It is likely that it will also lead to increased conflict between wildlife and people and this in turn will lead to the deaths of more of the animals on which Kenya's tourism industry depends.

Without the presence of KWS there will be no trusted provision of security for visitors to the area and no enforcement either of environmental and wildlife protection.

This move may even have implications for other national parks and reserves in Kenya as it will weaken KWS and in turn they may be less capable of protecting the other parks and reserves.

As a frequent high-spend visitor to Africa I had planned to visit Kenya again in 2006 but will now reconsider my plans and spend my money elsewhere in Africa. I will also do my best to spread this message throughout my family and friends and globally via the internet and ask people not to spend their money in a country that displays such a lack of concern about it's flora and fauna.

I urge you to reconsider and to review this decision with the input and consultation of the many experts in the field that are available to you.

Regards
Kavita Favelle,
London, UK
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Oct 7th, 2005, 06:00 AM
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I too received an email and petition from my friends in the Chuylu Hills in Kenya.
With as many regulars and visitors on Fodor's we can all help to stop this.
Forward and/or let your friends know about the petition. Every signature can make a difference.
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Oct 7th, 2005, 06:47 AM
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Thanks to all of you who are as concerned about this as I. I consider Amboseli my "home away from home" and truly love the wildlife and people who work in Amboseli.

Kavey - you're letter is magnificent. Wish I could have said it as well myself. Thank you.

Please continue to spread the word to everyone. I have written the Humane Society of US, USaid, IUCN, East African Wildlife Society (thanking them for their article in the Daily Nation - they were the first ones to have the nerve to speak out against the ruling).

I would love to be able to understand the President's thinking. First he gives away Amboseli, and then in last nights paper he is requesting a one-hundred million mansion for himself!!

If President Kibaki realizes it will hurt his country financially, perhaps he will rethink his views.

Again, thanks to all who are willing to help out.

Jan
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Oct 7th, 2005, 07:44 AM
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Aah. Sounds to me then that the president is all too aware of the implications of his actions but unconcerned. His concerns seem to be to use his term in office to secure his future (a most lavish one at that) and perhaps gaining favour with the Maasai is part of that.

BTW is he a member of the maasai peoples himself? I just wondered.
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Oct 7th, 2005, 08:26 AM
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Kavey, President Kibaki is Kikuyu.

This is written by Cynthia Moss:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/elephanttrust/message/123
She doesn’t say what she thinks about the president. I suppose she has to be ”diplomatic”.

This is a Maasai view:
http://www.nationmedia.com/dailynati...3&newsid=58671
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