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Maasai Environmental Resource Coalition (MERC)

Mission Statement

Maasai Environmental Resource Coalition (MERC)

The Maasai Environmental Resource Coalition (MERC) is a non-profit organization founded in Kenya in 1987 to stop the illegal appropriation and destruction of the Maasai people’s traditional lands. Maasai lands are completely interweaved with their cultural identity and MERC has worked to organize a network of grassroots Maasai organizations to save the unique Maasai lands and wildlife.

The Maasai people of East Africa have lived in harmony with nature for centuries. Their history is in the land and they view themselves as custodians, preserving the land for future generations. When European colonists formed British Kenya and German Tanganyika in the late 19th century, the Maasai people and way of life were devastated by disease and political alienation. Political repression of the Maasai continued after the nation states of Kenya and Tanzania became independent in the 1960’s.

MERC applies traditional indigenous knowledge, education and conservation biology to enhance understanding, trust and cooperation among all parties involved in the conservation of wildlife in East Africa. This approach to conservation management bridges the gap that has long existed between the indigenous communities, the governments of Kenya and Tanzania, and conservation NGOs (non-governmental organizations) on matters related to conservation, wildlife management, and economic development.

 
PROJECTS

  • Loliondo Anti-Hunting Project - This project, launched in 2001 with a comprehensive research effort, exposed the ruthless slaughter of wildlife by wealthy Arab royalty using military style equipment and arms operating without impunity in the Loliondo Hunting Concession within and around Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. MERC produced a report, "The Killing Fields of Loliondo", in May 2002. Twenty-five hundred copies have been distributed to non- governmental environmental and human rights organizations, relevant government and UN agencies, local communities, individuals and the media in East Africa and the U.S. The success of the project to date is documented in many ways: Pressure on the Tanzania government, wide publicity in the media, the suspension of hunting, at least temporarily, and game officials report the largest migration of animals from Tanzania into Kenya in more than five years.
  • Hunting - MERC has been working to stop the reinstatement of trophy hunting, proposed in 2003, in Kenya. This anti-hunting campaign is up against a powerful private enterprise and business lobby. The MERC strategy to keep the ban on trophy hunting includes, 1) working with the media, 2) mobilizing community resistance, and 3) developing an anti-hunting campaign including educational literature.
  • Amboseli Community Reconciliation Program - MERC has facilitated bringing Maasai communities together to resolve animal—human conflicts which arise during drought years. This program initiated the establishment of a well to provide a source of water for communities, the Meshenani Primary School in Amboseli, and proposed a “problem animal control unit” to respond to animal attacks.
  • Supporting the Ban on Trade in Ivory Project - MERC was the only grassroots indigenous organization present at the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Twelfth Conference of the Parties held in Santiago, Chile in November, 2002. Their participation greatly affected the outcome of hard and long negotiations, resulting in a compromise for a significant reduction in the amount of ivory that can be sold.
  • Maasai Education Pilot Project - MERC helped in the creation of a new water system, which enabled the construction of the Nasirai village health clinic. MERC also helped equip the new clinic as well.
  • Save the Mau Forest Project - The Mau Forest at the base of Mt. Kenya, is one of the last tropical forests in the region. The Forest is the source of eight major rivers, supplying water to people and wildlife, and the traditional spiritual center for the Maasai people. In 2000 the forest was removed from protected status. Forestry and commercial coffee development was approved. MERC instituted a lawsuit in the high court in Kenya in June 2002 to stop the logging. In 2003, the President of Kenya declared a ban on deforestation and development.

 » Read more about their current projects...

 
BENEFITS OF MERC MEMBERSHIP

  • Newsletter published by MERC.
  • MERC brochure.
  • Receipt of your tax deductible donation.

 
REFERENCE

Jensen, K., et al. Maasai Environmental Resource Coalition. 2003. 3 Oct. 2003 <http://www.maasaierc.org/>.