Friday, June 15, 2007

Do the Maasai have insurance against elephant attack?

It was a terrible accident and I hope Lewa and its supporters have the funds to meet their legal responsibilities. But even if the final settlement is much less than the £800,000 that the Mail speculates might be paid in compensation for the terrible injuries suffered by Wendy Martin, a tourist gored by an elephant while out running at Il Ngwesi lodge (with no armed guard to accompany her) seven years ago. . . Even if the final settlement is half that, it must risk jeopardising the future of one of Kenya's – probably the world's – best examples of community conservation and eco-tourism working harmoniously and bringing huge benefits to a community of traditional herders numbering more than 5000 people in one of the poorest parts of Africa. I think Wendy Martin has a case – she should have been more carefully protected – but it would be a tragedy if it brought renewed suffering to people who have had very rough ride from drought and livestock rustling over the last few decades. Needless to say, nobody ever offers compensation to the local Maasai when somebody from their community is injured by a wild animal.

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