Skip to main content Skip to footer

Tanzanian Maasai Visit Europe to Urge Action over Their Eviction from Their Lands

May 24, 2023
The Canary

Tracy Keeling

A delegation of Maasai representatives from Tanzania are travelling around Europe in May. They’re seeking international support to stop ongoing evictions and abuses against their people.

The Tanzanian government has been evicting Maasai from their ancestral lands, in an area called Loliondo, since 2022. It has apparently done so in order to lease their land to a UAE-based trophy hunting company called Otterlo Business Corporation (OBC), which has operated in the country for decades.

Several international institutions have condemned the evictions in recent months, and the Maasai delegation’s trip to Europe seeks more from the EU.

‘Abusive and unlawful tactics’

As Human Rights Watch reported in April, the Tanzanian government announced its plan to demarcate 1,500 square km in Loliondo as a wildlife reserve – for OBC’s exclusive use – in June 2022. The organisation conducted interviews with affected people between June and December that year.

Cease funding projects that violate human rights

The Maasai delegation will be visiting Germany and Austria. They’ll also be participating in a roundtable event at the European Parliament in Brussels, between 22 May and 1 June.

The delegation is supported by several non-governmental organisations, including Survival International and the Africa Europe Faith and Justice Network.

In a release about the European visit, the delegation and its partners asserted that European governments, institutions, and nonprofit organisations are variously involved “directly or indirectly” in tourism and conservation projects in Tanzania. During the visit, the delegation will urge European entities to cease funding projects that violate human rights. International cooperation should instead promote such rights, they will argue. […]

‘Unlike these rich foreigners, we don’t kill wild animals’

The Tanzanian government has justified its actions by effectively arguing that the Maasai’s presence is not conducive with conservation. Speaking with Le Monde diplomatique, however, a Maasai herder countered this narrative:

the government can’t teach us anything about conservation. Unlike these rich foreigners, we don’t kill wild animals – we’ve always lived alongside them. We’re not the ones endangering them. You find more wildlife in areas where Maasai live, whether it’s in Tanzania or Kenya.

As the Canary has previously highlighted, reports have implicated OBC in indiscriminately and unsustainably killing wildlife in Tanzania. The Institute for Maasai Education, Research, and Conservation produced one of these reports. OBC has had a presence in the country since the early 1990s. It facilitates trophy hunting and tourism by the UAE royal family and its guests, according to the Oakland Institute. […]