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WATCH: A Message to Nature Conservancy & African Wildlife Foundation from Evicted Samburu

Just Conservation

May 21, 2013

Nakuru talks to Jo Woodman about her eviction from her home to make way for conservation. Video editing by Zoe Young.

The Samburu of Kisargei, in Kenya’s Laikipia district, were brutally evicted from the lands they call home after it was sold to the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF). AWF – with funds from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and a private donor – says it bought the land on the understanding that no-one lived there. When the Samburu protested and took the matter to the courts the land was hurriedly ‘gifted’ to the government. Nakuru Lemiruni’s six children were all born in Kisargei and she says she ‘cannot think of any other land as home’. She wanted to send a message to AWF. This is it.

Police chose a Friday “market day” for their attack, when the men were away and only women, elders and children were in their homes. Fanning out across the 17,000- acre Eland Downs Ranch, police burned the Samburu families’ homes to the ground along with all their possessions.

Identified in the Kenyan press as “squatters,” the evicted Samburu families petitioned a regional court to recognize their ancestral claims to the land where they lived and grazed their cattle The suit has been filed by the Samburu against the African Wildlife Foundation and the former President.They need money and public support to win.

Currently the case against their eviction is mired in difficulty. The original judge was removed at the end 2012 and a new one assigned to the case after the community originally accused him of bias and avoiding due procedure. That judge is now challenging his removal. 

On the NGO front The Nature Conservancy hired a human rights expert, Albert Barume, from the UN’s International Labour Office to write a report for them on the Samburu land conflict. Sadly, but unsurprisingly, although TNC is a member of the Conservation Initiative on Human Rights and, in principle, supports transparency in its operations the report is not something they are yet willing to share. Perhaps it points to a greater involvement in the evictions than they are prepared to acknowledge. At this point we just do not know. From the CIHR website we learn that “The Conservation Initiative on Human Rights (CIHR) is a consortium of international conservation organizations that seek to improve the practice of conservation by promoting integration of human rights in conservation policy and practice”.  Clearly some of them haven’t worked out quite how to achieve this much vaunted improvement in conservation practice.

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More information on the Samburu evictions at:

http://www.justconservation.org/?tag=Testimonials&key=media_type

http://www.justconservation.org/conservation-and-the-violation-of-the-rights-of-the-samburu

http://www.justconservation.org/kenyas-samburu-people-violently-evicted-after-us-charities-buy-land

http://www.justconservation.org/kenya-rights-groups-threaten-to-sue-kws-over-samburu-perennial-land-disputes

http://www.justconservation.org/conservations-dirty-secrets

http://www.justconservation.org/theres-more-to-conservation-than-tigers-and-pandas