Maasai homeland tagged for Dubai company’s private hunting reserve

Photo:Trask Bedortha, Eugene Weekly

Tanzania’s Maasai have been told to leave their historic homeland by the end of the year to make way for a hunting reserve for the Dubai royal family, reports The Guardian.

ELAW Partner Elifuraha Laltaika says his government has reneged on its promise: “The impending eviction will re-energize the international community to side with the Maasai in this fight.”

Eli founded the Association for Law and Advocacy for Pastoralists to defend the human rights of Maasai cattle herders who have lived in harmony for countless generations in and around three of East Africa’s most iconic landscapes: Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and Maasai Mara National Park.

More than 130,000 Maasai are living in the Loliondo Game Controlled Area, which borders all three of these parks.  In March 2013, Tanzania’s Ministry of Natural Resources issued an eviction notice to Maasai living in a 1,500 square kilometer area of Loliondo, bordering Serengeti, for a “wildlife corridor,” to serve a commercial hunting and safari company based in the United Arab Emirates.

The eviction notice was suspended in May 2013, but the government has announced it will move forward and has offered compensation of 1 billion Tanzanian shillings ($578,000).

“You cannot put a price on the value of the land,” says Eli.  “The Maasai depend on the pastures, salt licks, and water sources for their families and their livestock.  The eviction is bad news for conservation efforts because the Maasai have been the custodians of wildlife for generations.”

ELAW is working in Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda to build the capacity of Eli and other grassroots defenders to challenge a push for land, oil, and minerals that threatens communities across East Africa.

For more information, see:

The Guardian, November 16, 2015 Tanzania accused of backtracking over sale of Masai’s ancestral land

ELAW Advocate, Summer 2014 Defending Community Rights in East Africa 

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