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The Maasai have always been special. Their bright red robes set them apart visually. Spear in hand, they are calm and courageous regardless of the danger. The armed British troops who drove the Maasai from their lands in the late 19th century had great respect for these fearless tribesmen. Up until recently, the only way for a Maasai boy to achieve warrior status was to single-handedly kill a lion with his spear. When you see a Maasai for the first time, you will likely agree with what Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen) wrote about her experience in East Africa in her book Out of Africa:

"A Maasai warrior is a fine sight. Those young men have, to the utmost extent, that particular form of intelligence which we call chic; daring and wildly fantastical as they seem, they are still unswervingly true to their own nature, and to an immanent ideal. Their style is not an assumed manner, nor an imitation of a foreign perfection; it has grown from the inside, and is an expression of the race and its history, and their weapons and finery are as much a part of their being as are a stag's antlers."

Kenya recognizes over fifty tribes of native people. The Maasai are one of these tribes, making up about 1.5 % of the country's population. The Maasai have always been special. Their bright red robes set them apart visually. Spear in hand, they are calm and courageous regardless of the danger. The armed British troops who drove the Maasai from their lands in the late 19th century had great respect for these fearless tribesmen. Up until recently, the only way for a Maasai boy to achieve warrior status was to single-handedly kill a lion with his spear.

The Maasai have not fared well in modern Africa. Until the British settlers arrived, fierce Maasai tribes occupied the most fertile lands. The Maasai struggled to preserve their territory, but their spears were no match for armed British troops, and their lawyers never had a fair chance in British courtrooms. The Maasai lost about two-thirds of their lands and were relocated to less fertile parts of Kenya and Tanzania. Other tribes of Kenya have adapted more readily to the "progress" of modern times. In contrast, the Maasai have persisted in their traditional ways, so as Kenya takes more land for national parks and agriculture, they suffer.

One positive trend for the Maasai in recent years has been the development of a specific form of eco-tourism. Although other tribes in Kenya regard wildlife as food or a menace to their crops, the Maasai co-exist with wildlife. Occasionally, a lion will take a cow or some goats and have to be caught and released in a national park, but this is rare. Normally, the Maasai and the wildlife simply live together peacefully. This peaceful co-existence creates the potential for a form of low-impact tourism, like Campi ya Kanzi. The Kuku Group Ranch where the camp is located has 400 square miles of land, and is occupied by only 3000 Maasai. The ranch is rich in wildlife since it adjoins Tsavo West National Park, Chyulu National Park and Amboseli National Park. Animals are fully protected in these national parks, and they use the ranch as a corridor connecting the Parks.

Part of the fees visitors pay to Campi ya Kanzi are returned to the Maasai owners of Kuku Group Ranch. Thus, by sharing their vast lands with a maximum of 12 visitors from Campi ya Kanzi, the Maasai of Kuku Group Ranch benefit in several ways:

* They maintain their lands in a natural state.
* They generate income to improve their nutrition and their children's education.
* They preserve their traditional ways and dignity.

Your visit to the camp helps the Maasai retain their heritage.

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