By Chris Lang
On 8 June 2022, a fleet of police vehicles and military vehicles arrived in Wasso town in the Loliondo division of Ngorongoro district. The anti-riot Field Force Unit is in Loliondo to demarcate a 1,500 square kilometre area of Maasai village land as a game reserve.
In an “Urgent Alert”, the Oakland Institute warns that arrival of this heavy police force “signals the government has moved forwards with plans to change the status of the Loliondo Game Controlled Area into a Game Reserve, which would trigger mass evictions of Maasai living in legally registered villages within the area”.
The police are firing live bullets. Extremely disturbing images of injured Maasai have been coming out of Loliondo. Many Maasai have been arrested.
The police are clearing the Maasai from their land in the name of conservation. This is the reality of turning 30% of the earth into protected areas for the hundreds of millions of people living in these lands.
Fiore Longo of Survival International told Down to Earth that,
We are in front of a humanitarian catastrophe that reveals the true face of conservation. The Maasai are being shot just because they want to live in their ancestral lands in peace and all of this to make room for trophy hunting and “conservation”.
Evicting the Maasai for “conservation” and trophy hunting
The Maasai are being violently evicted to make room for trophy hunting carried out by Otterlo Business Corporation. The company organises hunting for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president, prime minister, minister of defence of the United Arab Emirates, and the ruler of Dubai.
Otterlo Business Corporation has lobbied for many years to have the 1,500 km2 of Maasai village land turned into a protected area. Despite Otterlo Business Corporation’s record of involvement in violent evictions of the Maasai, burning homes, and killing of thousands of rare animals, the company will reportedly now control commercial hunting in the area.
Early in June 2022, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism announced that it would change the status of several Game Controlled Areas to Game Reserves. On 9 June 2022, the Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, Pindi Chana arrived in the Arusha region, to “inspect the activities of the Loliondo Game Reserve”.
Settlements and livestock grazing are not allowed in a Game Reserve. Apart from the people who live in this area, the 1,500 km2 area is crucial grazing land for the Maasai during the dry season.
Evicting the Maasai is in breach of a 2018 East African Court of Justice injunction, that prohibits the Tanzanian government from evicting the Maasai, seizing their livestock, destroying property, or harassing the Maasai living in Ololosokwan, Oloirien, Kirtalo, and Arash villages.
In a statement, Oakland Institute Executive Director Anuradha Mittal says,
“While a final ruling from the EACJ is expected at the end of June, the government is willing to defy the court injunction, grab the ancestral land of the Maasai and hand it over to the royal family of the UAE for their hunting pleasures, indicating its ruthless disregard for its citizens, international law, and due process.”