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Indigenous peoples’ fears of displacement laid to rest

4 September 2008

The very survival of indigenous peoples around the world can easily be threatened by forces that usually appear innocuous to people in the West, such as tourism or conservation. MRG's current Trouble in Paradise campaign is working for the rights of the Endorois community of Kenya, removed from their land and replaced with a game park. Other indigenous groups, such as the Mursi tribe of Ethiopia, have been imperiled by Western aspirations of wilderness conservation, but there is hope when activists from around the world stand alongside the indigenous community to demand justice, as they have done with the Mursi.

The Mursi tribe living in and around the Omo National Park in Ethiopia are celebrating as the threat of displacement posed by Dutch conservation organization African Parks is withdrawn. The organization is terminating its management leases for Omo and Nech Sar National Parks, held since 2005. The contracts with the Ethiopian government made no mention of the rights of the tribal people living within the park borders, and accordingly African Parks refused to consult with the Mursi or the other tribes in management decisions, banned hunting and farming within the parks, and requested that the government evict the tribes from the area. The livelihoods of 40 000 people of seven tribes who depend on the resources of the parks was thus threatened. African Parks has cited pressure from human rights organisations in their reasons for withdrawing, expected to take place by October 2008.

Read more from Survival International at or Native Solutions to Conservation Refugees at