The Ogiek, traditional hunter-gatherers, have been subject to violent evictions from their ancestral homeland in the Mau Forest Complex of western Kenya since the beginning of British colonial rule.The Kenyan government says the evictions are necessary to protect the Mau Forest Complex, an important water catchment.In 2017, after more than 20 years of legal wrangling, the Ogiek won a landmark victory when an international court ruled that the Kenyan government had violated the Ogiek’s right to their ancestral land by evicting them.However, there are signs that the Kenyan government may be backing down from its pledge to abide by the court’s decision. Activists are warning of “an imminent plan” by the government to evict Ogiek from parts of the forest. NAKURU COUNTY, Kenya — Caroline Chepkoeh looked around her idyllic property, perched on a hilltop surrounded by green maize fields as far as the eye can see. A storm front was approaching from the north and the wind swayed the corn stalks and trees alike. The 34-year-old mother of three was bundled up in her winter coat. It’s colder here, she said, and it’s too far to school. Her two youngest children haven’t started nursery school yet because of the distance. “I still have hope that we will return to our land,” she said.Her hope is in the hands of a judge at the High Court of Kenya in Nakuru county, in the highlands of southwestern Kenya. The judge will determine whether Chepkoeh and her family were illegally evicted from their home on the edge of the Mau Forest Complex, the largest montane forest in East Africa. This situation is not uncommon in Chepkoeh’s community; she is an Ogiek, an indigenous group whose members have experienced a dizzying number of evictions from their ancestral homeland in the Mau Forest since the beginning of British colonial rule.Caroline Chepkoeh, 34, an Ogiek mother of three, outside of her home near the Mau Forest Complex in western Kenya. Image by Nathan Siegel for Mongabay.Chepkoeh said she will never forget the most recent eviction. One morning in March, 2016,around 8 a.m., a group of uniformed police officers arrived on her property unannounced, armed with guns. By her account, the police started looting her property and beating her dogs, then doused the houses in gasoline and burned them to the ground. The surrounding community of Isinget, home to some 70 Ogiek families, faced a similar fate. One person was killed during evictions that month and hundreds were made homeless, according to human rights groups. Chepkoeh and her family were fortunate to have another small plot of land in the area to which they could retreat. But they pray that it’s a temporary resettlement. “It was difficult to move to a new place and start from scratch,” she said.
Article published by Morgan Erickson-Davis This story was reported by Mongabay’s Latin America (Latam) team and was first published in Spanish on our Latam site on Sept. 26, 2018. Agriculture, Crops, Deforestation, Drug Trade, Environment, Forests, Illegal Trade, National Parks, Primary Forests, Protected Areas, Rainforests, Tropical Forests Last month, an aircraft was intercepted in Bahuaja-Sonene National Park by the Anti-Drug Directorate of the National Police of Peru. It was carrying multiple passengers, who engaged in gunfire with police.A bag containing 30 kilograms of alkaloid cocaine found inside the plane.Cocaine is produced from the leaves of coca plants. Bahuaja-Sonene has the largest area of illegal coca cultivation of any protected area, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), with at least 118 hectares (292 acres) of coca grown within the park. LIMA, Peru — A joint operation by law enforcement agencies in Peru managed to seize 30 kilograms (66 pounds) of cocaine from a plane intercepted in Bahuaja-Sonene National Park last month.The operation on Sept. 25 built on intelligence reports from earlier in the week that identified a clandestine airstrip inside the protected park, in an area near the district of San Pedro de Putina Punco, in Sandia province. The agencies involved in the operation included the Peruvian armed forces; the office of the National Prosecutor under the Public Ministry; and the special investigation unit of the police’s anti-narcotics directorate, known by its Spanish acronym, Dirandro.The plane with Bolivian registration number CP-2936. Image courtesy of Dirandro.According to information provided by Dirandro, the drug-trafficking criminal organization Los Injertos de Tambopata planned to transport the cocaine from the park to Bolivia.Based on that tip, Janampa Oscategui, a provincial prosecutor specializing in fighting the illicit drug trade, met with Dirandro staff and armed forces officers on the morning of Sept. 25. They then went by helicopter to the suspected location of the 600-meter (2,000-foot) airstrip. At 8:30 a.m., they heard the sound of an aircraft approaching, and upon investigating found a white plane, carrying the Bolivian registration number CP-2936, with 15 people on board.A confrontation ensued between the officers and several passengers during which gunfire was exchanged. During the 10-minute clash, the pilot attempted to accelerate the plane for takeoff, but it was halted by police. The officers eventually seized control of the plane, along with a GPS unit and a sack containing “approximately 30 kg of alkaloid cocaine,” according to a statement from Dirandro. However, the passengers were able to flee and no arrests have been made. Dirandro officials say they are still searching for the individuals involved.The police found 30 kilos (66 pounds) of cocaine inside the aircraft. Image courtesy of Dirandro.A GPS unit was found inside the aircraft. Image courtesy of Dirandro.According to police, the syndicate Los Injertos de Tambopata operates mainly in the valley of the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro rivers (also called Vraem), carrying out “activities of processing, acquisition, storage, security, transportation and marketing of alkaloid cocaine.”The group also operates in the regions of Cusco, Ayacucho, Apurimac and Puno. According to Dirandro, they send the drugs to Bolivia on board small planes that depart from “uncontrolled airfields located in the jurisdiction of the Bahuaja-Sonene National Park.”This satellite image shows the clandestine airstrip discovered inside Bahuaja-Sonene National Park. Image by Planet Labs.“It is a very serious matter that the Bahuaja Sonene National Park is being eaten away by drug trafficking and illegal mining,” Alicia Abanto, assistant director for the environment and indigenous peoples at the Ombudsman’s Office, told Mongabay. “Although the operation was important (and without ignoring the outcomes), we cannot deny that the mafias have the control of the area, besides the territorial control capacity of the National Service of Natural Protected Areas (Sernanp) and the police force.”Abanto said ever-expanding fields of coca crops and the proliferation of clandestine airstrips “show the urgency of a resounding change in the management of territorial control in that area.” She called on the country’s prime minister, César Villanueva, to lead that change of strategy.Abanto said she had previously sent letters to the National Prosecutor’s office, the Ministry of the Interior, and the national tax administration to urge them to combat illegal mining. She now wants to the authorities to focus on the groups controlling illegal mining and drug trafficking inside protected natural areas.Bahuaja-Sonene in dangerCocaine is produced from the leaves of coca plants. Deforestation for coca production is seen as a major threat to Bahuaja-Sonene, as well as the district of Putina Punco. Much of the district is located within the park, and the remaining area sits within its buffer zone.For years, coffee crops in the areas outside the park have been increasingly replaced by illicit coca crops. In the Puno forest, for instance, the area devoted to coffee crops has decreased by more than 70 percent in the past six years, which illegal coca cultivation increased by more than 50 percent during the same period.Coca cultivation has already encroached into Bahuaja-Sonene itself. The national park has the largest area of illegal coca cultivation of any protected area, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), with at least 118 hectares (292 acres) of coca grown within the park.Map and satellite imagery showing the density of coca fields (top) and resultant deforestation (bottom) within a portion of Bahuaja-Sonene National Park. Images courtesy of UNODC 2017/MAAP 2015.Authorities say that in addition to deforestation for coca farms, about 5 square kilometers (1.9 square miles) of forest inside the park have been cleared for airstrips and other activities related to drug trafficking.In 2015, Bahuaja-Sonene park rangers identified a clandestine airstrip inside the park. Image by Digital Globe WorldView.Reported threats of violence have increased in tandem with the spread of coca cultivation in Bahuaja-Sonene. In 2015, four rangers working in the park and who had an office in Putina Punco were removed from their posts due to constant threats. Sernanp’s director said these threats also reached the former head of the park, who consequently resigned. Banner image: The plane used to transport cocaine out of Bahuaja-Sonene National Park, which was seized by police Sept. 25. Photo courtesy of Dirandro.Feedback: Use this form to send a message to the editor of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored