Green channel

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The Independent Online
Africa is, of course, famous for its wildlife. But what about the people who live alongside it? In recent years many tribal peoples have found themselves pushed off their land so that foreign tourists on safari can come and see the protected wildlife, and, increasingly, they are living in poverty outside the national parks.

However, a number of communities in Kenya are taking back control. More animals are now migrating outside the parks than previously, and local people have begun to market these areas to tourists. A Masai community 25km east of Amboseli National Park has set up Kimana Wildlife Sanctuary - the first ever to be owned and run by the Masai. It contains lions, leopards, elephants and other game and has three tented camps and one tourist lodge. The Masai charge foreign businesses to run the camps and spend the revenue on new schools, dispensaries and cattle dips. Some money is also put aside to help those whose livestock may have been killed by wild animals, or who are particularly affected during times of drought.

Eselenkei Conservation Area, 17km north of Amboseli National Park, has also been established with local communities in mind. The British tour operator Tropical Places, and the Masai people, have established the conservation area and have agreed to limit tourist numbers in the 200-sq-km area to 60 at one time. Tropical Places has been given exclusive rights to build a small lodge on condition that local workers are given preference, and that rent, bed-night and entrance fees for each visitor are paid to the Masai. Profits will be used for education and agricultural support.