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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
more about their current projects...
BENEFITS OF MERC MEMBERSHIP
- Newsletter published by MERC.
- MERC brochure.
- Receipt of your tax deductible donation.
Jensen, K., et al. Maasai Environmental Resource Coalition. 2003. 3
Oct. 2003 <http://www.maasaierc.org/>.