KAGESHEKI FIRM ON SPLITTING THE LOLIONDO ‘CONTROLLED GAME AREA’
No nonsense Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Amb. Khamis Kagesheki was blunt in his response to objections over his plans to split the Loliondo game area into two major parts, when he dismissed threats by local politicians to resign as he retorted: ‘If the civic leaders want to resign, they can go ahead. But there is no government in the world that can just let an area so important to conservation to be wasted away by overgrazing.’ He then went on to take aim at the large number of NGO’s operating in the Loliondo area, when he added: ‘It is amazing for a small area like Loliondo controlled area to have more than 30 non-governmental organisations if they are not after their own benefit. But now the end has come and the nation cannot be driven by the pressure of individuals or NGOs’ a clear indication that he was unconcerned over the likely pressure those NGO’s would attempt to bring on him to change his mind. In this connection he added further that poor usage of land has in the past repeatedly led to disputes for which he blamed local politicians as well as foreign interest aimed to interfere in the area. It is understood from a source in Dar es Salaam that the government will retain some 1.500 square kilometres, namely the part of Loliondo adjoining the Serengeti National Park which serves as part of the annual migration routes for the wildebeest but also provides water sources for game while being marginal for cattle or goat grazing. Some 2.500 square kilometres will be handed to the local communities and the Tanzanian government is reportedly committed to build dams to provide water for the herds of cattle.
Loliondo has been mired in controversy for long periods of time over the hunting concession given to a UAE based company for over 20 years, which often caused conflict with local communities who felt they were pushed off their own ancestral land and denied a right to make a living at the expense of favouring ‘a few rich sheikhs over the wananchi’. Watch this space to see how this story eventually pans out.