Africa Wildlife Foundation faces lawsuit from indigenous community in Kenya
Africa Wildlife Foundation (AWF), the conservation nonprofit based in Washington, DC, is facing a lawsuit by Kenya’s Samburu tribe over alleged unlawful evictions. The hearing, originally scheduled for January 23, has now been postponed to later this month.
The dispute is over an area of land in Laikipia District in Kenya, one of Africa’s most wildlife rich areas. Until recently, it was also the homeland of some 2,000 semi nomadic members of the Samburu tribe. At least according to the Samburu.
In a statement on their website, AWF says that the plaintiffs never actually lived on the land in question. They claim that the Samburu testified that they lived in an area 'neighboring' to the land. But Travis LeSalle, an Associated Attorney at the Center for International Human Rights Law and Advocacy, who has been to the region, says this couldn’t be further from the truth: "The Pois and Sukoroi communities....occupied the suitland as a permanent settlement since the 1980's." He also noted that the area had been part of the Samburu's ancestral land since the 15th century, though it did not become their permanent residence until the early 80s. This is typical of indigenous communities who relocate frequently within a large area.