Tanzania Squeezes Maasai by Seizing Livestock, Report Says
By WANJOHI KABUKURU
MOMBASA, Kenya (AP) — The Tanzanian government is seizing livestock from Indigenous Maasai herders in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in its latest attempt to clear way for tourism and trophy hunting, a report released Thursday said.
The update from the Oakland Institute, a U.S.-based environmental think tank, found that the government forcefully confiscated some 5,880 cattle and 767 goats and sheep from the Maasai in November and December last year and is demanding that owners pay heavy fines. Those failing to pay have their livestock auctioned and moved away.
“Livestock is central to the Maasai culture and livelihoods,” Anuradha Mittal, executive director, The Oakland Institute told The Associated Press. “Losing cattle is therefore catastrophic for them. With this new tactic the government’s goal is clearly to drive them away from their ancestral lands.”
The government has remained adamant that the relocations will pave the way for safari tourism, conservation and trophy hunting for lions, elephants and other famous large species, aiding the country’s environment and economic development. It termed the Maasai’s displacement as “voluntary,” adding it would suit the lives of the semi-nomadic pastoralists.
But Mittal said the government’s assertions that the relocations would better the lives of the Maasai are “a blatant lie.” He added that the government “continues to prioritize tourism revenues over everything else, including lives.”