Kenyan tourism- Part I

Kenya has various issues:

  • Independence in 1963. Since then it has been fairly stable
  • Violence through country in 2007
  • Corruption and urban violence
  • East Africa is heavily affected by drought
  • 35% of the population is below the poverty line

Tourism is Kenya’s largest “export”; adventure tourists have come since the 1800’s.

Game reserves pushed out local people when they were established. In a single day 200 vehicles can bring 700 tourists to a reserve. Vehicle tracks were built and traffic increases to see rarer animals such as leopards (25 vehicles can arrive to see a single leopard). It is dangerous to go close to a leopard, which they do for shots. It is forbidden to go off the roads in the game reserves; doing so can spoil roadside vegetation. Authorities who find someone doing this can fine them on the spot, but the park drivers will do this anyway for visitors. A vehicle getting stuck in the mud roadside also increases erosion.

Some lodges, such as Leawa, have been built on game reserves for richer tourists; these are very luxurious and expensive; their money pays for the wildlife sanctuary. The game wardens are like an army, armed with firearms.

The horns of 1 rhino can sell for about US$7,000 on the black market. Rangers are allowed to shoot out poachers, and will shoot before they ask questions. Leawa visitors are funding a school for 500 pupils fed and educated for free with plentiful water

Conflicts with ex-locals

Masai Mara

The Masai previously lived on the land cleared for the Game Reserve. 400,000 Masai Mara were pushed out to make way for tourists by the government. The Masai trinket sales people are very aggressive. They were once a proud warrior tribe but drought and lost land has made them rely on food aid and selling trinkets. They have had to sell their culture for tourist money. A welcoming committee comes to ask tourists for money; they have a fake village and fake traditional dances for tourists.

They also sell illegal lion teeth and claws, which airport security doesn’t check for.

An hour away from the game parks is a real village. Someone entering the village should greet the women and touch the children’s heads when entering the homes as a sign of respect.They gain teeth and claws from predators in real battles, using spears to defend their town.

Deprived of their homelands, they were pushed onto barren land. The Masai think it is a blessing to have tourists come to help their issues. They have to make trinkets for tourists who are hours away for little money.

Their huts are made from cow dung which leads to swarms of flies nearby. They have no furniture. Fires are inside homes for heating and bedding is made of cow hide.

The Masai were promised that they would share profits from tourism by the government in exchange for their land, but they have not.


The Endorois were also pushed off of their land to the North of the Masai Mara. The land is used for tourism too. They were told they had 24 hours and if they didn’t leave, their stuff would be destroyed. They were lied to in a similar manner about payment for their lands. They were forced to live on semi-arid land and mostly live on food aid. The Endorois have been evicted from their homelands nigh systematically for many years.

Houses were built from sheet metal which means that the rooms inside were uncomfortably hot. Water was kms away from the homes. From December to May there is no water in the river. Some mothers were too poor to look after their children.

The African Union has said that the Kenyan government has to compensate them. A Canadian Lawyer has been helping them to reclaim their lands, and a large celebration occurred when she managed to regain them one of their lakes. The Endorois thanked her by claiming her as one of them.

(Image Sources:


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