Skip to main content Skip to footer

Kicking Native People Off Their Land Is a Horrible Way to Save the Planet

February 20, 2024
NY Times

Over 600,000 tourists travel to Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Conservation Area each year, and many will catch a glimpse of the Great Migration: the famed trek of more than one million wildebeests and thousands of zebras, gazelles and other animals crossing over the Mara River into Kenya and back. Yet the Tanzanian government believes it can attract many more tourists seeking the safari adventure of a lifetime: five million by 2025, bringing $6 billion with them per year, according to a recent plan.

That’s why government officials recently announced a change in the legal status of Ngorongoro that will prohibit human settlement inside and near it. The decision will force authorities to remove nearly 100,000people — mostly Maasai pastoralists who have used Ngorongoro’s vast grasslands to sustain their seminomadic cattle-herding way of life for generations — from the protected area. According to the government, the Maasai must be removed to conserve the land and protect biodiversity. The Maasai argue that removal puts their lives and cultural survival at risk and that the government should instead expandtourism in a way that respects their rights.