Can Africa’s Massai protect its wildlife with this innovative conservation idea?

African lionsPoaching and illicit wildlife trafficking are decimating Africa’s iconic wildlife. African elephants and rhinos are seriously at risk of becoming extinct in the wild in our lifetime.

The Maasai – a semi-nomadic people who live predominately in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania along the Great Rift Valley – have been fighting for decades to defend their land, their environment and their wildlife. Poachers,  billionaires who want to buy up their traditional lands for safari lodges, and sketchy government officials are their main opponents to their way of life.

But they’ve come up with a truly innovative idea that could help y protect their home, the customs of their ancestors and nearby endangered wildlife.

By pooling their land, the Maasai plan to establish a reserve that they will manage themselves. This will create a crucial wildlife corridor where elephants, rhinos, lions and wildebeests will be able to roam free.

The Maasai want to create a wildlife corridor to help save endangered wildlife in Kenya and Tanzania

The Maasai want to create a wildlife corridor to help save endangered wildlife in Kenya and Tanzania

Tourism has for decades brought billions of dollars into the Kenyan economy but the Maasai (the land’s rightful owners!) have barely seen a penny of this.  Experts say securing these communities’ control over their land, creating this reserve and giving the Maasai a chance to benefit directly from conservation and responsible tourism is the best way to protect it.

The survival of some of our planet’s most majestic animals that move across the Serengeti to the Masai Mara National Reserve every year during the Great Migration could well be at stake. The community has already pledged 4,000 acres to create the reserve.

Avaaz, a global organization (with over 40 million members in 194 countries) that promotes activism on issues such as climate change, human rights, animal rights, corruption, poverty, and conflict – is spearheading a funding campaign to help these proud people save their culture and the important creatures they want to protect.

The idea of private land ownership is a relatively new concept to the Maasai. But between the 1960’s and 1980’s it was forced on them by the government and a new land management system of individual ranches became the norm. Today, the Maasai see this as a way to save themselves and take back their power.

Elephants in Masai Mara, just one of the seriously endangered species that the Maasai want to help save

Elephants in Masai Mara, just one of the seriously endangered species that the Maasai want to help save

They take a slightly different but powerful viewpoint on “ownership”, however.

“It’s a case of everyone seeing that land belongs to the community as much as the individual,” says Maasai leader Edward Loure. “It’s saying ‘our land’ rather than ‘my land’. So many companies have come and there has been a lot of land grabbing going on. But we have shown that if we use resources well there is enough for everyone.”

After just three months of Avaaz working with the tribes on this project, the organization recently posted the following:

“After only 3 months of work by this community, lions, zebras, giraffes, and elephants are returning in large numbers — even giving birth there!”

To make this very large and important dream a reality, the tribe needs funds, and people around the world can help. To donate to helping the Maasai create this permanent wildlife corridor and empower them in their quest for self-determination, please click here. Whether it’s $6, $20 or more, every amount makes a huge difference. That’s something we all can do.

 

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