Tension in Tanzania’s Loliondo area as troops move in to evict the Maasai
By Fred Oluoch
The Tanzanian government is intending to resume the eviction of about 70,000 Maasai community in Loliondo to make room for trophy hunting and elite tourism.
The move, which will involve dispossessing over 70,000 Maasai pastoralists of 1500sq km of their ancestral land, which will be set aside exclusively for the Ortello Business Company, a hunting firm owned by the United Arab Emirates’ royal family.
On June 8, dozens of police vehicles from the anti-riot Field Force Unit (FFU) arrived in Wasso town in Loliondo, Ngorongoro district, to demarcate the area as a Game Reserve. The FFU and other forces have now set up camp in the Oloosek area of Ololosokwan and in Sanjan, Malambo.
In the following two days—June 9 and 10 – locals gathered in several locations, including Ololosokwan and Kirtalo, to protest against the police invasion. This provoked high-handed reaction from the police and paramilitary forces who allegedly dispersed people at a traditional ceremony.
The Regional Commissioner of the Tanzanian government met with village chairmen to inform them of the government’s decision, despite the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) having ruled in favour of the Masaai community in 2018.
Thousands of the Maasai people have staged protests, and are adamant that they will not leave until the decision is reversed.
According to Anuradha Mittal, the executive director of the Oakland Institute and author of Losing the Serengeti, the fact that the Maasai are once again facing eviction to please the UAE Royal Family shows the Tanzanian government continues to prioritize tourism revenues at the expense of the indigenous pastoralists
“The Maasai, who are the indigenous community, are appealing for international support so that their land and rights are respected. The myth of ‘protected areas’ takes away not only their rights as people, but their ability to live in theIR ancestral land,” said Mr Mittal
To facilitate the Maasai dispossession, the Tanzanian government prepares to implement the multiple land use (MLUM) and resettlement plan in Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA), created with heavy influence from the UNESCO World Heritage Committee (WHC).