Sunday, 8 May 2016

The Maasai's Urgent Request For Help

The iconic Maasai of Kenya and Tanzania have been fighting for decades to survive and defend their environment.

Lately, they're losing the battle: besieged by shady poachers, billionaires who want to buy up their traditional lands for safari lodges, and sketchy government officials.

But now a Maasai community in Kenya has had a killer idea to fight back -- pool their own land and form a new kind of reserve, run by themselves. This will not only ensure they protect their home and the customs of their ancestors, but will create a new wildlife passage -- a crucial corridor where elephants, lions, and wildebeest roam free.

This could become a shining example for conservation and for our campaigning. Normally if we want to protect a precious ecosystem, we have to campaign for years to get a government park set up, and then all too often officials fail to protect it. This time, the Maasai could establish their own reserve, and manage it themselves!

But with a number of foreign buyers eager to take their land, the tribe needs funds fast to get the reserve up and running, take down fences, then train and pay young people to become wildlife patrollers. 

They've turned to the Avaaz* community with an urgent request for help.

Chip in now  -- let's throw them a lifeline, then campaign to help the Maasai, and indigenous communities under threat around the globe.

I have donated to help the Maasai and you can by clicking here.

Furthermore, if you would like to buy a print of this photo of Maasai Dancers in the Serengeti, I will donate all profits to this cause - you can buy it in a variety of formats from a large canvas print to a greeting card, or have it printed on a T-shirt, a tote bag or even a shower curtain!
Maasai Dancers
For decades the Maasai have struggled to hang on to their ancestral lands as profit-hungry mass tourism companies and government officials buy up, sell off, and repurpose the countryside that has sustained them for generations. Tourism has brought billions into the Kenyan economy -- but the Maasai (the land’s rightful owners!) have barely seen a drop.

This is our chance to help change that. Experts say securing these communities’ control over their land and giving them a chance to benefit directly from conservation and responsible tourism is the best way to protect it.

The corridor is crucial for the survival of some of our planet's most magical animals which move across the Serengeti to the Masai Mara every year during the Great Migration. The community has already pledged 4,000 acres to create the reserve. If we all donate now, we could provide the first year of funds for their amazing plan, then come behind them to leverage international organisations to match our grant, and campaign to defend indigenous conservation worldwide.

Nelson Ole Reiyia, the community leader heading the project, says: "With support from Avaaz, my people's dream of uniting to save our land can finally happen! It's an incredible feeling to have our community backed by people all over the world to make our dream a reality." Chip in now: 

Our community has a proud history of working with the Maasai. When the Tanzanian government tried to kick them off their land so hunters could shoot big game out of helicopters, we came together to stop it. Actions by over 2 million of us helped persuade the Tanzanian President to commit to stop the evictions. Now, we can help another Maasai community bring to life their inspiring vision for their land.

PS: The corridor of land was once home to an ancient elephant nursery -- and now we can help bring it back! After only 3 months of work by this community, lions, zebras, giraffes, and elephants are returning in large numbers -- even giving birth there! 

*Avaaz.org is a 44-million-person global campaign network that works to ensure that the views and values of the world's people shape global decision-making. ("Avaaz" means "voice" or "song" in many languages.) Avaaz members live in every nation of the world; our team is spread across 18 countries on 6 continents and operates in 17 languages. Learn about some of Avaaz's biggest campaigns here, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

More information: 

Tanzanian land rights victory earns Masaai leader Goldman prize (The Guardian)
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2016/apr/18/tanzania-land-rights-victory-earns-masaai-leader-goldman-prize-edward-loure 

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