Keeping the Faith: The 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. 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, conservation NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and the tourism industry on matters related to conservation, wildlife management and economic development.
Maasailand in Kenya and Tanzania is one of the last great wildlife refuges in the world. The Maasai Mara-Serengeti ecosystem supports the highest concentration of wildlife on Earth. Encompassing the cross-border region of the Maasai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya and the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, this land is the native home of such noble animals as the lion, the elephant, the rhinoceros, the cheetah, the giraffe and the roan antelope.
Maasai territories provide habitat for 80 per cent of East Africa's wildlife.For thousands of years, Maasailand has been a place of cultivated harmony between humans and wildlife. Today, the wildlife of Maasailand is threatened by poaching and the destruction of habitat.
Poaching and trophy hunting have claimed 92% of the rhinoceros and 70%
of the elephant population. The region's popularity as a tourist destination is
growing, and large-scale tourist facilities are being built in pristine areas.
Between 1978 and 1998, the Maasai lost over 1.5 million acres of land to development, tourist facilities, large-scale farming, and other interests. In particular, the rapid growth of the tourism industry in both Kenya and Tanzania has had a negative impact on the environment and the livelihood of the indigenous Maasai people. The uncontrolled development of modern tourist facilities threatens the ecosystems both within the wildlife reserves and in the adjacent communal Maasai grazing lands.
Our Guiding Vision
Become a link in our global family of individuals and organizations dedicated to preserving the Maasai culture and the great ecosystems of East Africa.
is registered under section 501(c)(3) of the United States Charities Act.
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