Selling off the Serengeti

The President of Tanzania is poised to sign a deal with the United Arab Emirates owned Otterlo Business Corporation Ltd (OBC) which would force up to 48,000 members of Africa’s famous Maasai tribe from their land in the Ngorongoro District of Tanzania to make way for wealthy hunters from the UAE.

In 2009 Otterlo pushed the Maasai off their land to make way for hunting. Eight Maasai villages in the Loliondo region of Tanzania were burnt to the ground, leaving 3,000 people without food, water or shelter. Their livestock on which their wealth is based later died of starvation.

Photo from Flickr by kiwi vic
Maasai children at Ngorogoro

In his 2010 report,  the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya, documented widespread allegations of abuses of the Masaai and criticised the Tanzanian Government for its failure to protect vulnerable indigenous populations.

“Although Government representatives claim that the evictions took place as a result of environmental concerns related to the conservation of the Loliondo Game Control Area, the circumstances surrounding the evictions indicate that the evictions were in fact part of a larger Government policy favouring the interests of private enterprises engaged in conservation tourism and wildlife hunting, principally the Ortello Business Corporation, over the rights of indigenous peoples, particularly the Maasai pastoralists.”

The report describes the operations of the OBC which have had negative environmental impacts without any intervention by the Government. Specifically, the construction and operation of an airport in the middle of wildlife corridors and birthing areas has caused air pollution and noise disturbance; the construction of permanent housing has occurred illegally within animal conservation areas; and water piracy has diminished the water resources within the animal reserve. OBC, unlike other private enterprises in Tanzania, also enjoys a close connection to the Government of Tanzania and its operations are guarded by the police Field Force Unit and other state organs. Independent investigators attempting to examine the situation of the evicted villagers were stopped and questioned by the Field Force Unit and then escorted away from the OBC company camp.

People have spoken (Voices from Loliondo) documents what the Maasai communities have to say about how their land should be managed

Avaaz is encouraging concerned citizens to sign a petition so President Kikwete of Tanzania gets the message to rethink this deadly deal. Sign the petition now and send it to everyone.

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