Ogiek tribe to become ‘conservation refugees’

The hunter-gatherer Ogiek tribe of Kenya could become the latest in the world’s growing tide of ‘conservation refugees’ if Kenya’s government acts on its threat to evict them from their land in the name of conservation.

The Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga have said that their government plans to remove the Ogiek from their ancestral land in the Mau forest.

Ever since colonial times, they have resisted attempts to evict them from the Mau forest. They depend on the forest, where they gather honey, hunt antelope and pigs and grow vegetables.

More than 60 Ogiek leaders met recently to oppose the government’s plans. ‘We will resist any attempt by the government to remove us from our ancestral land. Mau is our home. Our ancestors are here. We will not be intimidated,’ said Ogiek Councillor Paul Leswagei.