Tuesday, 9 April 2013

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


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.

It is suggested that the 'Ortello Business Corporation' want a new hunting block as they have killed most of the wildlife on their old one. Photo courtesy of Paul Goldstein

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.

If you would like to support the Maasai sign the petition Stand with the Maasai 

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