Maasai Eviction Looms in Tanzania as State Prioritizes UAE 'Royal Family' Firm
The East African Court of Justice (EACJ) in 2018 granted an injunction prohibiting the Tanzanian government from evicting Maasai communities from 1,500 square kilometers of ancestral, legally registered land in the Ngorongoro, northern Tanzania.
The government plans to lease the same parcel of land to a company based in the United Arab Emirates, to create a wildlife corridor for trophy hunting and elite tourism. The move will see 70,000 Maasais displaced.
At least 70,000 Maasai pastoralists risk eviction from their ancestral land in Tanzania after the government revealed a plan to lease the same parcel of land to a United Arab Emirates (UAE) firm.
The move by the East African state comes despite the company’s past involvement in a series of evictions of the Maasai people in the region. To add salt to injury, it has also spearheaded the killing of thousands of rare animals in the area, among them lions and leopards.
Dubbed the Otterlo (sometimes spelled Ortello) Business Corporation (OBC), the foreign company said to be owned by the UAE royal family will create a wildlife corridor for trophy hunting and elite tourism.
According to Wikipedia, trophy hunting is the hunting of wild animals as trophies, with the whole or parts of the hunted animal kept and usually displayed to represent the success of the hunter.
Elite tourism is often described as tourism for the rich and/or famous guests.
The move comes almost five years after the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) granted an injunction barring the Tanzanian government from evicting Maasai communities from the piece of land.
The land of contention is a 1,500 square kilometers (580 square miles) legally registered piece of land in the Loliondo division of Ngorongoro, northern Tanzania.
It is part of the 4,000-km2 (1,544-mi2) Loliondo Game Controlled Area that became a multipurpose area for hunting, conservation and pastoralism.
A US based policy corporation, the Oakland Institute, notes that OBC will be in charge of commercial hunting in the area.
The decision to lease the land to OBC was disclosed to Maasai leaders on January 11, 2022, by John Mongella, the regional commissioner for the Arusha region, according to a statement by the Oakland Institute.
Quoting Mongella, the executive director of the Oakland Institute Anuradha Mittal said the government planned to remove them from their land at some point this year, even if this decision will be painful to many.
A Maasai leader who sought anonymity said that Mongella continuously stressed that leasing the land is in the “national interest” and should therefore also be of priority to the Maasai people.