Get off your land, Tanzanian government tells 40.000 Masai to make space for a hunting concession


(Posted 18th November 2014)

There is going to be hell to pay if they try to evict these people just so that someone somewhere can pocket. The Sheiks from Dubai should go and shoot sea gulls but not come here to hunt our game, which is already decimated by unchecked poaching, and have our people thrown off their land. How did you say, choices have consequences and if the government sticks to that choice they made they should not be surprised about the consequences. First their underhand methods to drive people off their land for that lunatic port idea in Mwambani and now this? They have gone stark bonkers’ ranted a regular source from Arusha when narrating the story about a quit notice given to people living in the Loliondo area outside the Serengeti, which is allegedly to be turned into a hunting area for Dubai’s ruling family.

Clan elders and community representatives are due to meet the Tanzanian Prime Minister though for many observers it is clear that decisions of such magnitude clearly have been made elsewhere and can only be halted by those who made them.

Seeing the PM tomorrow (Tuesday) is not the answer nor will it likely produce a solution. If individuals have been compromised to put the eviction back on the table, for reasons best known to themselves, and we all know what that of course means, they will not be able to find a way out. If they have already eaten, they cannot bring it back, they have to deliver. Widespread protests, international attention and petitions similar to the Serengeti Highway, that is the solution. The international media have to put pressure on the guys in Dubai too because the last thing they want there is to see their own name dragged into the global arena over bad news. The media in our country are gagged and the closer we come to the elections the worse it will become. No, the local media will not make too much noise but the opposition will pick another fight in parliament over this to show the people how corrupt the system has become’ said another regular reader from Tanzania.

One community activist, a Samuel Nangiria, is quoted in international media reports to have expressed fear for his own life and safety for standing up for his brethren’s land rights, while also claiming that security forces had over the past two years killed other activists. Last year was an apparent short lived success recorded when petition site had solicited over 1.5 million signatures while engaging in a widespread Twitter and other social media campaign, something government officials have come to loath and fear as it cannot be controlled by them and to make it worse, mouthpieces with a clear lack of intuition then made comments which only fueled the fire.

This latest revelations are bound to re-ignite the same campaign and is likely to damage Tanzania’s image abroad yet further, as, like in the case of the Serengeti Highway, the Lake Natron mud flats soda ash plant, Uranium mining in the Selous, engaging a corrupt company for the hare brained Stieglers’ Gorge hydro electric dam project and the proposed port in the middle of the Coelacanth Marine Park, eviction of Maasai who have a birthright to their land, will no doubt create another field day for environmentalists, conservationists and human rights organizations.

In a related development did Tanzania’s Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism also step into the proverbial when, either misinformed or more likely misinforming, claimed that putting blood ivory on the plane of the Chinese president was impossible. ‘The man lives in a state of denial. Until three years or two years ago these guys even denied there was a poaching crisis at all. When they had no way out they finally admitted there was a problem while lashing out at those who made this public. Those in aviation know that putting luggage on that plane is only subject to the checks of the Chinese security, not of the Tanzanian security. And if officials loaded their suitcases with ivory, with their culture at home, that is like a non-issue. There is no security threat in that so it will be cleared. The moment that Environmental Investigation Agency report came out the Tanzanian mouthpieces, before even absorbing the facts and trying to check, immediately shouted foul play and started the blame game. This is the same like when they denied there was a poaching crisis, and probably the same chaps. They lost all credibility and they risk to have us decampaigned abroad as a tourism destination. Already we have problems with falling arrival numbers and if this is added and then the pre-election fears over potential political violence, that will be a perfect storm. Do they care? NO!’ yet another source added.

It is clear that not all is well in Tanzania, and no matter what their government says about their new stand against poaching, none of the 300 on the list produced by former tourism minister Amb. Kagesheki has been charged in court nor has the list been published, raising more questions than providing answers. The conservation record of the Kikwete government, now in its 9th year and counting down to elections in 12 months’ time, is as abysmal as government records come, and with this latest bit of bad news about wanting to throw up to 40.000 Maasai off their ancestral land, the record can only get worse.

Watch this space for breaking and regular news about conservation issues from across Eastern Africa.

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