We’ve just heard about the destructive situation going on in Amboseli. It started as tragedy with the loss of one young maasai boy’s life. Politics and money have now escalated the situation into a maasai killing spree of wildlife outside the National Park limits.
Big Life Foundation quotes “We are in agreement that the local communities need to see a much greater share of revenue related to the wildlife that lives amongst them. Amboseli National Park cannot be, and can never exist successfully, as an island for the wildlife. It is much too small. But that it has come to the slaughter of innocent animals for the Maasai’s voice to be heard is a sad state of affairs. However, we believe in the future of successful conservation through the support of the community. It can be the only way forward.“
Big Life was founded by photographer Nick Brandt in September 2010, in urgent response to the escalation of poaching in Africa due to increased demand from the Far East, and is dedicated to the conservation of Africa’s wildlife and ecosystems. With one of the most spectacular elephant populations in Africa being rapidly diminished by poachers, the Amboseli ecosystem, which straddles both Kenya and Tanzania, became the Foundation’s large-scale pilot project. Headed up in Kenya by renowned conservationist Richard Bonham, multiple fully equipped teams of anti-poaching rangers are being placed in newly built outposts in the critical areas throughout the 2-million-acre (8,100 km2) + area. Bonham spent most of yesterday flying over the area monitoring the situation and alerting where necessary, while spears were thrown at his plane.
I do not understand the thinking of the community council but here is the situation, as of 11am Wednesday morning18 July, passed on by Mara Triangle:
Last week, a Maasai boy was killed by a buffalo in the Amboseli ecosystem. An officer from Kenya Wildlife Service blamed the killing on the Maasai, not the buffalo and 200 warriors went on a rampage to spear any elephants and buffalo they could find. One buffalo was killed and one elephant speared before the warriors were talked down.
This should have been the end of it. Grief and anger played its part, the boys death avenged, however you want to explain the horror that could happen any day, living in the bush in Africa. The maasai have, for hundreds of lives, lived in symbiosis with nature, but times are changing and politics and money are affecting decisions now.
The KWS officer was moved elsewhere, and a provisional agreement made that the Director of KWS would meet to discuss the communities’ grievances the following week. The meeting happened on Monday, but a Community Warden and two board members went in place of the Director of KWS. The Maasai community were furious, felt they were disrespected and the meeting broke up. As a result, all communication broke down between KWS and the Maasai communities around Amboseli.
Most of the tension relates to the fact that the Maasai only receive a tiny proportion of the revenue from Amboseli National Park. The park is only 300,000 acres in a 2 million+ acre ecosystem, and most of the animals move in and out of the unprotected areas where the Maasai live. Each night, three-quarters of Amboseli’s elephant population will typically be outside the park. So with an ever-increasing population encircling the park, they face the consequences of raided crops, livestock killed by predators etc.
A decision was made by maasai council members that, as of 6am yesterday, hundreds of warriors in the villages surrounding Amboseli National Park should go and spear ALL ELEPHANTS, LION AND BUFFALO that they could find, to make their point known. They would not kill animals inside the park.
Yesterday was brutal. The warriors spread across the ecosystem hunting down elephant herds as they made their daily morning trek towards the park. Kenya Wildlife Service rangers were completely outnumbered, and much of the time could only stand by and watch as the warriors swarmed around the elephants hurling spears at them. in Elerai, for example, there were an estimated 150 warriors all targeting one herd of elephants.
We don’t have confirmed figures yet, but we have unconfirmed reports of at least ten elephants speared, one of Amboseli’s oldest bulls badly wounded, another with ten spears in him, another beautiful 35 year old bull who was speared to death while sleeping under a tree in the lead-up to this situation. Also up to ten buffalo killed, and a lion.
Today, Wednesday, so far, the situation is much better. KWS has called in major reinforcements from adjoining Tsavo, Elite Special Unit teams, and more aerial support. There is now a strong, coordinated response to the situation. At the same time, the community leaders have ordered the killing to cease. There are still groups of warriors out there in hunting parties, but so far, as far as we know, they have been apprehended prior to making any kills.
However, this ‘ceasefire’ is temporary. It will only stand until if and when an agreement can be reached between KWS and the local communities and county council. We hope the situation can be resolved through dialogue before yet more innocent animals are killed.