UAE princely hunters threaten Tanzanian people and wildlife

This video from Tanzania is called Nduara Loliondo Camp | Serengeti migration area | Expert Africa.

From Wildlife Extra:

Maasai banned from their land in favour of an Arabian hunting company

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April 2013. The Loliondo Game Controlled Area (LGCA), one of Tanzania’s most well-known Maasai community concessions and wildlife destinations is in the spotlight as local stakeholders and outside financial interests clash over its natural resources.

Foreign hunting company at the centre of the row
These tensions are not new, and given the location of Loliondo and the bounty of wildlife and grazing it carries, such tussles over competing land-use options are not surprising – what is surprising though is the manner in which the Tanzanian government has chosen to deal with the crisis. By choosing to side with a notorious foreign hunting company over a local Maasai community, they have shown a blatant disregard for traditional land-use rights and exposed the contradictions in their stated conservation goals.

Adjacent to the Serengeti
Lying adjacent to the north-eastern portion of the Serengeti National Park, the significant array of wildlife found in this 4 000sqkm concession has over the last two decades attracted increasing numbers of hunters and ecotourists. The current dispute involves a United Arab Emirates (UAE) based hunting company called Ortello Business Corporation (OBC) with strong links to the royal family and military leaders of this tiny Arab state – they want their own private hunting grounds within Loliondo.

Maasai not consulted
But tourism is a very recent arrival to these verdant ancestral lands of the Maasai who have been living and grazing cattle here for the past 200 years or so. More recently, this historical tenure was formalized in a 1959 compensatory agreement when the Maasai were moved here for permanent settlement after being banished from the Serengeti when it was declared a national park. Back in 1993 when OBC first muscled its way into Loliondo, Tanzania had just emerged from decades of heavy socialism that brought state control to every aspect of life. Quick to take advantage of the transition, the Arabs approached the then government and in the negotiations the Maasai were never consulted in any way over the granting of a long term lease. By all accounts this came as a Presidential decree offering extremely favourable terms to the new leaseholder.

Allegations of illegal and unethical hunting practices
Without consent or any form of buy-in from the traditional landowners, this was always going to be an acrimonious relationship. And the Arabs case has not being helped by allegations of illegal and unethical hunting practices, including the use of aircraft and machine-guns as well as baiting wildlife from the nearby Serengeti. Other accusations against them include the theft of wildlife from the concession, acts of intimidation and threats and bribes paid to silence people from within the community and government. This has all led to numerous public clashes between community residents and OBC and the authorities, who the Maasai accuse of being in cohorts with each other.

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New hunting block
While the official government line for dealing with the disputes at this moment revolves around securing wildlife corridors in Loliondo, the inside view is that the Arabs are looking for new and better hunting grounds as they have pretty much blighted what they had. And it would seem they may just get their way again. In a recent announcement, the Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism proposed that Loliondo be split into two sections – 2 500sqkms for the Maasai and a 1 500sqkm ‘wildlife corridor’ to be reclaimed as the Minister put it “for the benefit of the nation.” With this move however, government has in essence served the Maasai with an eviction order by expropriating almost one-third of their ancestral land, and in the process made provision for the Arabs to get a new lease on an exclusive hunting bloc running alongside the Serengeti.

The issue here is not about refuting the Minister’s wish to protect the country’s wildlife – all would agree this is imperative. Rather, it’s about the continuation of policies that entrench historical land injustices and a mindset that cannot accept the ownership, empowerment and conservation credentials of traditional communities living on the edges of Africa’s protected areas. The marginalization began with the arrival of colonial powers and the dispossession and impoverishment processes were completed during the creation of the continents national parks and reserves. Post-independence governments inherited the mess, but barring a few notable exceptions, they have only served to compound the injustices.

‘For the benefit of the nation’
And the great irony here is that ‘for the benefit of the nation’ may actually mean for the benefit of a few wealthy foreign hunters with an appalling conservation record – and this will come at the expense of Tanzanian citizens that have historical rights to Loliondo and a belief system and pastoralist lifestyle in keeping with being natural conservators of wildlife.

This decision points to one of three scenarios.
1) The Tanzanian government simply has no regard for the traditional land rights of their citizens
2) They again have failed to understand the dynamics and direct links between alienated and impoverished rural communities and many of the conservation battles taking place in and around protected areas or
3) Both of the above are correct and this has led to high-level politicians believing the financial takings on offer are acceptable. It’s a decision that must be questioned at every level.

This battle is far from over. As a local Maasai councillor has said, “We are not ready to surrender even one meter of our land to investors for whatever reasons.”

Rich Gulf Arabs using Tanzania as a playground? Someone opened the gate. The hunters may not care about sacrificing Masai rights – but Tanzania’s government should: here.

Gunmen have kidnapped at least 27 Qatari hunters – including members of the ruling family – in a desert area of Iraq near the Saudi border, say police and the local governor: here.


16 thoughts on “UAE princely hunters threaten Tanzanian people and wildlife

  1. Pingback: Very Inspiring Blogger Award, thanks Shaun! | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Dear friends,

    Within hours, Tanzania’s President Kikwete could start evicting tens of thousands of the Maasai from our land so hunters can come and kill leopards and lions. Last time Avaaz raised the alarm, the President shelved the plan. Global pressure can stop him again. Click to help us urgently:

    Sign the petition
    We are elders of the Maasai from Tanzania, one of Africa’s oldest tribes. The government has just announced that it plans to kick thousands of our families off our lands so that wealthy tourists can use them to shoot lions and leopards. The evictions are to begin immediately.

    Last year, when word first leaked about this plan, almost one million Avaaz members rallied to our aid. Your attention and the storm it created forced the government to deny the plan, and set them back months. But the President has waited for international attention to die down, and now he’s revived his plan to take our land. We need your help again, urgently.

    President Kikwete may not care about us, but he has shown he’ll respond to global media and public pressure — to all of you! We may only have hours. Please stand with us to protect our land, our people and our world’s most majestic animals, and tell everyone before it is too late. This is our last hope:

    Our people have lived off the land in Tanzania and Kenya for centuries. Our communities respect our fellow animals and protect and preserve the delicate ecosystem. But the government has for years sought to profit by giving rich princes and kings from the Middle East access to our land to kill. In 2009, when they tried to clear our land to make way for these hunting sprees, we resisted, and hundreds of us were arrested and beaten. Last year, rich princes shot at birds in trees from helicopters. This killing goes against everything in our culture.

    Now the government has announced it will clear a huge swath of our land to make way for what it claims will be a wildlife corridor, but many suspect it’s just a ruse to give a foreign hunting corporation and the rich tourists it caters to easier access to shoot at majestic animals. The government claims this new arrangement is some sort of accommodation, but its effect on our people’s way of life will be disastrous. There are thousands of us who could have our lives uprooted, losing our homes, the land on which our animals graze, or both.

    President Kikwete knows this deal would be controversial with Tanzania’s tourists – a critical source of national income – and does not want a big PR disaster. If we can urgently generate even more global outrage than we did before, and get the media writing about it, we know it can make him think twice. Stand with us now to call on Kikwete to stop the sell off:

    This land grab could spell the end for the Maasai in this part of Tanzania and many of our community have said they would rather die than be forced from their homes. On behalf of our people and the animals who graze in these lands, please stand with us to change the mind of our President.

    With hope and determination,

    The Maasai elders of Ngorongoro District


    The Guardian: Maasai fury as plan to lure Arabian Gulf tourists threatens their ancestral land

    allAfrica: Land Grab Could Spell ‘The End of the Maasai’

    IPP Media: Maasai villagers frustrate efforts to vacate for Ortelo

    The Guardian: Tanzania denies plan to evict Maasai for royal hunting ground

    The Guardian: “Tourism is a curse to us”

    New Internationalist Magazine: “Hunted down”

    Society for Threatened People: Briefing on the eviction of the Loliondo Maasai

    Click to access STP-SocietyThreatenedPeople-eng.pdf

    FEMACT: Report by 16 human rights investigators & media on violence in Loliondo


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