Maasai Driven Out of Their Lands for the Benefit of Tourism

May 21, 2018
Tourism Review Media

Gregory Dolgos

The Maasai people are driven from their own lands. This is the sad finding of the Oakland Institute's report "Losing the Serengeti, the Maasai Land That Was to Last Forever". This study denounces the intimidation of these semi-nomadic herders who live in Kenya and Tanzania and more particularly in the Serengeti region, known worldwide for the richness of its wildlife. Under pressure, the Maasai had to gradually give way to tourists and hunters.

As the Oakland Institute reveals, over the years, tens of thousands of Maasai have been left homeless in the name of ecosystem conservation. By delimiting "protected" areas or ceding them to new owners, the Tanzanian government is reported to have pushed the Maasai into smaller and smaller arable plots, making livestock grazing and the cultivation of allotment gardens impossible, the report denounces. As a result, famine and disease have become widespread among indigenous people who denounce "intimidation and violence" by police forces.

This pressure is not only exerted by the government; it is also caused by Safari companies operating in the country to the benefit of tourism. Thus, the report highlights the devastating impact of two enterprises on the lives and livelihoods of Maasai. The report points to Tanzania Conservation Limited (TCL) and Ortello Business Corporation (OBC). The first, specialized in ecotourism, is owned by Thomson Safaris, American tour operators. According to the Maasai, the company is cooperating with local police to deny villagers access to water and land. The report stresses that the police beat and arrest the indigenous people.