Masai tribes eye white settler land in Kenya

The Masai tribespeople of Kenya are running out of land for their herds of goats, cows, and sheep, and they are starting to covet the vast swaths controlled by the country’s white settlers — land that contains copious wildlife, including endangered species like the black rhino. The conflict is touchy. Many of the whites are sympathetic to the Masai, whose land was stolen and transferred to whites by the British a century ago. “I know how it would feel if I were them, even 100 years later,” says Laria Grant, who lives on her father’s 14,000-acre ranch. However, she adds, “we feel as strongly about this land as they do.” Many white settlers no longer use their land for grazing at all, but rather for wildlife preserves sustained by ecotourism, in some cases boasting more endangered species than the country’s official preserves. Thus far the Kenyan government has protected the settlers, fearing the kind of economic catastrophe that befell Zimbabwe after it seized farms from white landowners, and hoping that a more measured program of limiting the length of white settlers’ leases will balance the needs of wildlife and the country’s native people.