The 5895m Kilimanjaro provides a dramatic background in Amboseli (Masai word for salt and dust) National Park that is famous for it’s many animals because of the swamp lands. Mt. Kilimanjaro now belongs to Tanzania since the Zanzibar treaty was made and as part of a fair trade Mombasa was exchanged for the mountain. Kenya still has the 2nd largest mountain in Africa Mt. Kenya 5195m and a rich trading port of Mombasa while Tanzania has Mt. Kilimanjaro and Dar El Salaam as a port for trading.
Only 10 percent of Amboseli is National Park (the only water is here) which belongs to the government and the rest is Masai land. Seeing the Masai tribes one might think they are poor but in fact they are ‘poor’ millionaires and rather intelligent.
Since the territory of the park is quite small there is a lot of conflict between animals. The Masai has brought the numbers of lions down. There is only about 40 left.
Poachers are still after elephant’s tusks in this area. The black market price is about 200 thousand dollars for a kilogram while the rhino horn is selling for 500 thousand US per kilo. However the 200 million dollar ivory trade was banned by the Kenyan government in 1976 and the parks are monitored by rangers poaching still creates a problem. Chinese and Vietnamese are known to use them as aphrodisiac while in the Middle East they use it for jewellery.
Witch doctors are quiet common in Africa. A reformed poacher was sharing his tips how the witch doctors made a potion for him and when he applied that he no longer had a human smell and animals were no longer afraid of him either.
Even politicans sometimes turn to witch doctors.
After the animals we got to interact with children of the local Masai school and listened to the teachers explaining about the Kenyan education system. The government is trying to encourage the importance of education to the ‘primitive’ Masai tribes. Allegedly with the system put in place in schools, the Masai culture will disappear in about 15 years.
It was heartwarming to see the children. They might have the bare minimum set up and simplistic way of learning willingness and intelligence came through their beautiful eyes. By providing educational options and support for them they can further themselves and with good grades they can be rewarded scholarships and given the opportunity to advance all the way to even a PHD level if they choose to and leave the tribal lifestyle behind.
Fabulous blog Naomi, I couldn’t stop reading your Kenyan experiences from start to finish. Some great in depth knowledge of the places you traveled to and the cultures encountered. Thanks for sharing your insights.