For the Maasai, cattle are what make the good life, and milk and meat are the best foods. They move their herds from one place to another, so that the grass has a chance to grow again; traditionally, this is made possible by a communal land tenure system in which everyone in an area shares access to water and pasture. However, most of what used to be Maasai land has been seized for private farms and ranches, for government projects, wildlife parks or private hunting concessions.
Climate change is having an acute impact on indigenous communities as they are marginalized - retaining only the driest and least fertile areas. The stress this causes is aggravated by attempts of westernized governments to ‘develop’ the Maasai, forcing them to settle and to take jobs in towns.
One of the most immediate threats to the Maasai comes from game hunters. In the Loliondo region of northern Tanzania, Maasai villages have been burnt to the ground by the authorities, and thousands have been brutally evicted to provide companies with more access to land for game hunting.
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