Our great-grandparents lived with the animals and took good care of them. But we are being separated from them. We need our land back. Now surviving is very difficult for us. Matsipane Mosetihonyana, a Bushman who died shortly after being expelled from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve
The conservation industry often refers to "wilderness," but the concept is essentially wrong. Almost all conservation areas are, in fact, the ancestral lands of indigenous peoples who have controlled their environment for generations.
Far from being devoid of human influence, even the world's best-known 'virgin' regions, such as Yosemite, Yellowstone or the Serengeti, were, in fact, home to indigenous and tribal peoples, who were violently evicted when their lands were they became national parks. Now, these areas are geared towards tourism and all related industry.
Today, this pattern is repeated in many parts of the world. In some cases, protected areas are even being logged and mined. This wreaks havoc on both the environment and the families who call these areas home.
Violation of human rights
When faced with the loss of their land and livelihoods from the creation of national parks, few communities voluntarily renounce their roots, their homes and ways of life. The consequences when they resist are often severe. Indigenous people around the world complain about the beatings, arbitrary arrests, harassment and even torture they suffer when faced with the loss of their ancestral lands due to the creation of a protected area.
In response to criticism, many conservation organizations have come under pressure to incorporate policies regarding indigenous peoples. On paper they underline the need to obtain the free, prior and informed consent of the communities before embarking on the creation of a conservation area. They also often recognize the right of the tribe to continue using the natural resources of the area.
However, in practice these policies are rarely enforced. In Cameroon, for example, anti-poaching squads routinely harass, intimidate and beat Baka “pygmies” when they try to gain access to their forest; In India, tribal peoples continue to be driven out to make way for tiger reserves.