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Ancestral land of Maasai people trophy-hunting grounds for UAE royals

June 12, 2022
Al Mayadeen English

By Al Mayadeen English

Northern Tanzania is faced with evictions as UAE firm seeks to turn ancestral land into a trophy-hunting ground. More than 70,000 Indigenous Maasais reside in northern Tanzania, and they are all facing displacement after the government revealed plans to lease the space to a UAE-based company, Business Corporation (OBC), to create a hunting reserve for elite tourism.

Indigenous leaders have filed an appeal at the regional court, hoping that they could halt the plans for this area. For Maasais, the current evictions are considered a violation of a 2018 injunction that barred the government from evicting Maasai from 1,500 square kilometers (580 square miles) of ancestral, legally registered land in the Loliondo Division of Ngorongoro, northern Tanzania.

The regional commissioner for the Arusha, John Mongella, according to sources, said the decision to lease the land was a difficult one. However, he claimed, that the country could largely benefit from the return on such a project as it will boost tourism revenue.

The Maasai people were informed of this decision on January 11, 2022. The timeframe for Maasai displacement is still being worked out, but plans for another group of Maasai to be relocated to an UNESCO World Heritage Site are set to begin at the end of February.

Evictions and actions

On Friday, June 10, 2022, Tanzanian security forces fired at Maasai farming communities. The gunshots came in the context of an eviction operation leaving Maasai people terrorized and feeling unsafe... all this happened for the sake of clearing the land to turn it into a hunting corridor.

Anuradha Mittal, founder and executive director of the Oakland Institute, a California-based think tank specializing in social and environmental issues, has been monitoring the situation of the evictions and said in a written statement to the OBC, “The government is willing to defy the court injunction, grab the ancestral land of the Maasai and hand it over to the royal family of the UAE for their hunting pleasures, indicating its ruthless disregard for its citizens, international law, and due process.”