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Fortress conservation threatens Maasai pastoralists in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area: "The Government is systematically starving us"

June 18, 2021

By Chris Lang

Maasai pastoralists have lived in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area bordering the Serengeti National Park for generations. But their livelihoods and homes are threatened in the name of conservation. A new report by the Oakland Institute documents how, on 16 April 2021, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority issued eviction notices to 45 people and ordered more than 100 building to be destroyed.

The buildings included homes, schools, religious centres, medical dispensaries, and administration offices. The owners and occupants were given 30 days to comply.

The notice identified more than 150 “immigrants” in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area as a first step to evicting them in future.

Four days later, after widespread outrage by the people living in the area, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority suspended the eviction and demolition orders “until further notice”.

Indigenous Peoples Rights International organised a petition address to Tanzania’s president, Samia Suluhu Hassan, to stop the eviction of the Maasai. On 12 May 2021, IPRI sent the petition which was signed by 124 organisations and 229 individuals from 51 countries.

Fortress conservation with the support of international conservation agencies

The threat of eviction remains. The Tanzanian government has prepared a multiple land use model (MLUM) with a resettlement plan. The plan, if it went ahead, would create four zones in the Conservation Area, one of which would be for “settlement and development”. But there are no streams in that zone and the land is not suitable for pastoralism.