History of Amboseli National Park
History of Amboseli National Park: The first humans to settle in the region were the hunter-gatherers while over 1,500 years ago who were, the chagga, Kamba and Bantu-speaking people began to arrive. Finally, in the seventeenth ‘’17th’’ century it’s when the Maasai occupied here from the North with their cattle.
In 1883, it’s when the first European Jeremy Thompson ventured into these feared Maasai regions known as Empusel, in maasai language meaning sandy and salty place. He was astonished by the hallmark array of wildlife and the contrast between the semi-arid areas of the dried lake bed and the oasis of the swamps which are habitant for bird life, a contrast which still persists today. Furthermore, He was the second European to sight see the majestic snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro after the German missionary Johann Redman. This prominent man did a great work to prove to Kenya government that the area would turn into a great tourist destination since he was friendly to wildlife and nature lover.
In the early twentieth ‘’20th’’ century the colonial government imposed to protect the wild animals from poaching, mostly elephants and the victims of ivory merchants which were created in the southern Maasai Game Reserve that included a wide area South of Nairobi and today’s Amboseli National Park, made larger to the lands which now belongs to the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
Historically, the land was home to the Maasai people and their cattle herds. But later Amboseli was set apart as the southern Reserve for the Maasai in 1906 and later it was handed to local control as a game reserve in a year of 1948 and by that time it covered 1,259 square miles /3,261 square kilometers northwest of Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Within it were characterized seven habitats; open plains, lava-strewn thorn bush country, acacia woodland, swamp, marshland, the Amboseli lake bed and the slopes of Oldoinyo Orok.
Finally, in 1974 it was gazette as a national park to protect the core of this scenic ecosystem and was listed on the UNESCO site in 1991.In the same year more than 10 percent of the reserve was established as the Amboseli National Park making to cover 392 square kilometers, centered on lake Amboseli. Other part of the park is dry with a flat basin of alkaline soils and encompasses three of the original seven habitats; the open plains, thorn bush country and acacia woodland. The park inhabits a big game, the most spotted mammals include lions, elephants, cheetahs, baboons, black rhinoceroses, Maasai giraffes, buffalos, hippopotamuses, Oryx, wildebeests, impalas, gerenuk and gazelles mentioned but few.
The Name Amboseli derives from Maasai word which means salty dust and it is one best places in Africa to view wide range of herds of Elephants up close.
In 2005 the Kenyan government decided to announce its intentions to give the park back to noble Maasai people, the status of the park was to revert back of being a reserve and would be handed by the local council. However, conservationists mounted about this legal challenge against the government’s action and the transfer came to an abrupt stop.
Since then, the Maasai moved free on the ground, leading them to cattle grazing while getting water up to the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, but they suffered quite a few problems with the wild animals that fled from areas, this forced them to take refuge in the most arid areas where they could not survive.
For this incident, with the establishment of the National park, the Maasai were prohibited to live in this protected area and also with their cattle, which seemed to be a difficult time to them. But they were relocated to nearby areas which were clearly dug to supply them with water.
Though the maasai did not accept the decision which were made to abandon their ancient villages and claimed to be independent on the water resources which could supply water to their livestock, in the off-limits protected area.
The Kenya government has granted the Maasai access to some wells for water supply and they often suffer with water supply during dry seasons, on safari visit you can watch some Maasai leading livestock within the borders of the Amboseli national park in search of water sources, thus creating further damage to the fragile ecosystem of the park.
The effect on wild animals, were positive, in fact there are no longer disturbed by cattle, they all returned to the National park.
Amazingly, today the Maasai appreciate a lot the importance of this protected national park and have realized the importance of tourism development as a source of income to their communities, them included; many Maasai have turned to be safari guides and many work in the safari lodges of the conservation areas that borders the National park.