Skip to main content Skip to footer

Capitalizing on Chaos: Thomson Safaris Tightens its Stranglehold Over Indigenous Lands in Tanzania

Sukenya Farm
April 16, 2024

Boston-based Thomson Safaris is exploiting the Tanzanian government’s brutal repression of land defenders to legitimize control over Maasai land in the Loliondo Division of the Ngorongoro District. In June 2022, the government carried out land demarcation to create a Game Reserve in Loliondo, which saw security forces fire live ammunition on the Maasai, severely wounding dozens and displacing thousands. In the immediate aftermath of these events, Thomson Safaris carried out a resurvey of a long-contested land claim they have in the same area. In a November 2023 court filing, communities allege they were excluded from the resurvey process and have since suffered abuse by the company’s staff enforcing the new boundaries.

“Over the past two years, the Tanzanian government has repeatedly shown it will aid and abet foreign corporations operating luxury safaris at the expense of the Maasai communities who have stewarded these lands for generations. While labeling itself as a sustainable tourism operator, the American firm is getting away with capitalizing on this repression,” said Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director of the Oakland Institute.

This report exposes how in the aftermath of the resurvey, the strict enforcement of the new boundaries has aggravated daily hardships for the villagers who report incidents of violence – allegedly committed by Thomson Safaris’ guides – against pastoralists and their children. “My boy was taking care of the livestock when he was caught by a Thomson Safaris’ guide and beaten for no reason. He suffered injuries on his body…Our rights have been violated by an intruder in our ancestors’ land,” said one of several villagers who testified to the Institute’s research team.

Coverpage of the report