December 17, 2011 by Don Surber
The Nature Conservancy — a tax-exempt corporation — is a pretty aggressive purchaser of land in the Third World in the name of environmentalism. One of its mottoes is “Donate to The Nature Conservancy and give back to nature.” In Kenya, a gift may have gone a little to far back to nature — all the way to the law of the jungle.
From the Guardian:
Members of the Samburu people in Kenya have been abused, beaten and raped by police after the land they lived on for two decades was sold to two US-based wildlife charities, a rights group and community leader have alleged.
The dispute centers on Eland Downs in Laikipia, a lush area near Mount Kenya. At least three people are said to have died during the row, including a child who was eaten by a lion after the Samburu were violently evicted in November last year.
The London-based NGO Survival International said the Samburu were evicted following the purchase of the land by two American-based charities, the Nature Conservancy and the African Wildlife Foundation.
The groups subsequently gifted the land to Kenya for a national park, to be called Laikipia National Park.
Survival International said the land was officially owned by former president Daniel arap Moi, although AWF simply said it bought it from a private landowner.
With nowhere to go, around 2,000 Samburu families stayed on the edge of the disputed territory, living in makeshift squats, while 1,000 others were forced to relocate, Survival said.
The newspaper quoted Blythe Thomas, a spokeswoman for the Nature Conservancy: “The conflict over natural resources across Africa is a serious issue. Everywhere we work in Africa, we’re working with local communities to address natural resource issues. We’re closely monitoring this situation; unfortunately we can’t comment at length due to a pending court case in Kenya.”
This has happened in the last month.
Court case or not, this raises so many questions such as why are we giving tax exemptions to corporations that buy land off corrupt foreign presidents and then give that land for national parks? Why would America not tax such transactions, if only to discourage them?
Daniel arap Moi was pretty bad news, according to Wikipedia: “In 1999 the findings of NGOs like Amnesty International and a special investigation by the United Nations were published which indicated that human rights abuses were prevalent in Kenya under the Moi regime. Reporting on corruption and human rights abuses by British reporter Mary Anne Fitzgerald from 1987–1988 resulted only in her being vilified by the government and finally deported. Moi was implicated in the 1990s Goldenberg scandal and subsequent cover-ups, where the Kenyan government subsidized exports of gold far in excess of the foreign currency earnings of exporters. In this case, the gold was smuggled from Congo, as Kenya has negligible gold reserves. The Goldenberg scandal cost Kenya the equivalent of more than 10% of the country’s annual GDP.”
Imagine if the Koch Brothers bought land from a corrupt foreign politician. The press would be all over them like a wet T-shirt.
I am all for saving the lions. I oppose feeding them children. We need to rein in these tax-exempt corporations.