MAASAI

NORTHERN TANZANIA & KENYA


TRIGGER WARNING

of violence and physical injury inflicted on Maasai throughout this page

On 7th June, about 700 police, park rangers, military and other ‘security’ forces arrived at Loliondo. Late on 9th June the community in large numbers went to uproot all the beacons that were installed by the police. They slept to guard the land. As the day broke, the soldiers returned only to find huge gatherings of men and women and the police started shooting teargas, followed by live bullets. A total of at least 31 people (18 men and 13 women) have sustained injuries resulting from live bullets, and at least one Maasai man has died.

Extracts from Maasai Elders statement.

 Loliondo, Tanzania. June 2022.


“Our homeland has been turned into a hunting park, with the wealthy coming and hunting the wildlife. We have witnessed this killing of wildlife for fun since 1992, when the royal family from Dubai was given an open ended license in our village lands. The guns are now turned to us, we, the very people who have taken care of the environment and shared harmony, food and peace with wildlife for time immemorial. Hunting and conservation do not go together, but with the power of money, anything is possible…”

Anonymous Maasai Elder

  • July 2022


“…We have resisted this plan of a hunting park for the best interest of our land security and those of the environment since it was proposed. Some of our community members have given their lives, many tortured, jailed and considerable economic loss…”

Anonymous Maasai Elder

  • July 2022

“…On 10th June, our villages in Loliondo were invaded and occupied by the military; we were not notified despite the fact that we have a court case coming to its judgment at the end of June 2022…”


Anonymous Maasai Elder

  • July 2022

“…We have been shot, harassed, injured-especially women- and displaced. Thousands have been displaced including 1,576 children and are now homeless seeking refuge in Kenya. Most of the are lacking basic needs, including food supplies, medical care and accommodation…”


Anonymous Maasai Elder

  • July 2022


“…We are being accused by our government as destroyers of the environment; and, denied citizenry to Tanzania, those who crossed to Kenya in fear are now said to be Kenyans. This is the fourth forceful eviction from our land. And our leaders languish in detention in big numbers, 20 of them are charged with murder. “We cannot tell the world of the happenings because the media is banned from covering our story”. All the NGOs staff are under threat, most of them fled the country in fear…”

Anonymous Maasai Elder

  • July 2022

Meanwhile the Government denies anything is happening despite also saying that one policeman has been killed. The Government cites as evidence the fact that there are no wounded people in hospital. However, this is because for a wounded person to be treated in hospital requires a PF3 form issued by the police, the same police who are causing the injuries. For this reason, wounded Maasai have to be taken to Kenya. One man bled to death on the way. So far at least 9 councilors and district chairmen have been detained in unknown locations since June 9th.


A Maasai community representative says, “There are thousands of police and soldiers. They are going into homes and beating people at night. People are hiding. Women are being shot. My female relatives have been shot. Journalists are intimidated into not reporting.”

Extract from Community Press Release, June 2022.



A local traditional Maasai leader said:

“We have nowhere else to go. Losing this land will mean the extinction of our community. We have taken care of our environment and lived in harmony with other living and nonliving things. And we are not ready to lose our traditional lifestyle we have lived for time immemorial. Tourists flood our homelands in every area to see and wonder how we have been able to maintain a balance between our lives and nature. Pastoralism is compatible with conservation. Many studies have confirmed…

…Over 70% of our homelands has been taken for conservation and investment reasons. We are appealing to human rights organizations, media and other citizens who value Indigenous human rights to share our plight and put pressure on the government of Tanzania to respect the rights of its citizens, and particularly Indigenous people. We are capable of conserving and taking care of our environment more than any one, and we have demonstrated that for so long.”

  • June 2022

The brutal evictions are just the tip of the iceberg. The attacks of the government of Tanzania, the Safari and trophy hunting industries against the Maasai of Tanzania go far beyond. They have waged a concerted campaign to destroy the lives of the Maasai of Loliondo and Ngorongoro, and force them to leave. The Maasai communities have presented evidence in the following report that the government has:


  •  Poisoned the cattle that the Maasai rely on to survive as this report shows
  • Shot dead the cattle that the Maasai depend on to survive
  • Arrested journalists who intended to cover the evictions
  • Created a concerted communication campaign to spur racial hatred towards the Maasai
  • Continued restricting basic livelihood activities of the Maasai in recent years, even though they did not degrade the ecosystem, in order to increase their poverty and food insecurity, which it could then use as an excuse to relocate them in order to reduce such issues.
  • Ordered the destruction of essential social services that the Maasai rely on to make life impossible for them in the area


WHY ARE THE MAASAI BEING EVICTED?

The Tanzanian government claims that they are evicting the Maasai to protect the wildlife and the ecosystem, but this claim is false.


Read the Guardian’s ‘East Africa must reject its colonial model of conserving wildlife


The above report authored by the community also presents and collects comprehensive evidence that Maasai activities have not damaged the surrounding ecosystems, but in fact have supported its flourishing, instead, the tourism industry which is meant to replace the Maasai carries grave environmental risk.

This evidence is also present in the Maasai Community letter to donors: 

The fact that the Maasai Evictions serve no environmental purpose, contrary to government claims, is also confirmed by this open letter by conservation scientists


“Since 1959, when the Maasai were first relocated from the Serengeti to Loliondo and Ngorongoro by the British colonial authorities, our communities have faced a cycle of broken promises leading to dispossession, violence and marginalisation.”


Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA)

In March 2019, a joint monitoring mission including the UNESCO and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) asked the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) to urgently control population growth in the NCA, framing it as the leading cause of environmental degradation. The Tanzanian government responded by producing a Multiple Land Use Model (MLUM) and Village Resettlement Plan.

The new MLUM recommended the resettlement of all 97,000 residents of the NCA with an option of redesignating it as a Game Control Area to license trophy hunting. The plan designates at least 82% of the area to conservation, making access for pastoralism illegal. Under this proposal, the government therefore needs to resettle over 80,000 community members out of Ngorongoro and into areas that cannot sustain their traditional livelihoods. The Oakland institute reports that the areas designated for resettlement lack adequate water sources, grazing land, social and health services, and the government have not consulted the communities that currently live in that area.

Oakland Institute report:

Flawed Plans for Relocation of the Maasai from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area

This is particularly devastating given the acute hunger and food insecurity that 70% of Maasai residents already face with the existing restrictions placed by the government– including restrictions on subsistence cultivation. The result of these senseless restrictions is increased poverty (which already affects 50% of Maasai residents), widespread starvation and disease, especially amongst children.


Sources:

Loliondo

The Tanzanian government is turning 1,500 km² area of village land located in Loliondo Division of Ngorongoro District into a protected area, evicting over 70,000 Maasai residents and their 200,000+ cattle from their legally owned land. As part of the plan, the Ortello Business Company (OBC), a hunting firm owned by the United Arab Emirates’ Royal Family already operating in the area, is being given exclusive rights to hunt in the disputed land despite the company’s past involvement in several violent evictions of the Maasai, burning of homes, and the killing of thousands of rare animals in the area.


Tanzanian president Samia reassuring investors from the Gulf that they will have their way:


HOW IS WWF INVOLVED IN THE MAASAI EVICTIONS?

For years WWF has been organizing safari tours in the NCA, https://www.nathab.com/africa/ and the research on the ground points to the fact that the Maasai are being evicted precisely in order to make space for safaris.

WWF is profiting from the ethnic cleansing of the Maasai, which leaves further space for Safari tours to take place.

Possibly also because this conflict of interests, the WWF have advised the NCA Authorities in 2019 that key environmental issues in the NCA were caused by the high population, despite much evidence of the contrary, and suggested that the government “reduce the number of people” and relocate essential social services outside of the area.

You can find the consultation papers at page 13 of the Oakland Institute report


The WWF blatantly lied about this in their reply to the demands of our occupation, when they said that they already made clear to the Tanzanian government that they opposed the evictions: instead, they told the government to carry them out and are profiting from them.


WWF has been working with NCA Authorities on a number of conservation projects and anti-poaching activities, many of which have led to increased militarisation of the NCA Authorities. Additionally, considering the financial and technical support WWF UK provides to WWF Tanzania and the support provided by WWF to the Tanzanian government which is carrying out the evictions, WWF UK is indeed involved in the NCA and the evictions.



Maasai Resistance

The Maasai are not passive victims of this ethnic cleansing. They are bravely resisting the onslaught, using non violent resistance, putting their bodies in front of the army who wants to evict them, showing incredible bravery in the face of danger.

Since the beginning of the evictions the community has mobilised in great numbers to deliberate and reach collective decisions on demands and strategies. They organized a large number of protests, including coordinated protests in Ngorongoro, Dar Es Salaam, London and Edinburgh, as well as launching an international campaign to boycott the tourist industry, which is the cause of the evictions.

You can read the community’s demands and sign the boycott below!

The community also reached out to international media outside of Tanzania, securing sustained coverage of the evictions, is providing legal defence to all human rights defenders under attack by the state and organised emergency support for those Maasai who had to flee to Tanzania. They are currently submitting a complaint to the United Nations, to UNESCO and challenging the government’s actions in the East African Court of Justice. They have been engaged in this struggle for land and life for decades already. The courageous collective resistance of the Maasai community shows us that when people are determined to defend their land and fight together, they can face overwhelming odds.

Community-led Conservation


In June 2022 ten indigenous communities from four East African countries came together to share experiences on each other’s ancestral lands for the first round of the East Africa Assembly on Land Justice and Indigenous Peoples Co-operation: the Sengwer of Embobut forest, the Ogiek of Mount Elgon, the Ogiek of Mau, the Aweer of Lamu, and the Yaaku of Mukogodo forest (in Kenya); the Maasai of Loliondo, Simanjiro and Ngorongoro (in Tanzania); the Benet of Mount Elgon and the Batwa of Kisoro (in Uganda); and the Batwa of Kahuzi-Biega (in the DRC). This series of community assemblies will explore how to resist dispossession and how to support each other to regain community tenure and collective care for their lands.



These assemblies will provide an opportunity for communities to connect and share individual and collective experiences – as well as strategies and support – around issues such as land tenure and human rights, evictions and land dispossession, community mobilisation and organising, women empowerment and role in the struggle, litigation strategies, community land registration and historical land injustice claims, community conservation by-laws implementation and governance structures. The purpose of these community exchanges is to create a space for collective learning and building solidarity and collaboration.

These assemblies are a community-led and -organised alternative to the institutional bureaucratic infrastructure that monopolises the debate and decision-making spaces around conservation and climate change mitigation projects. This alternative will input into the IUCN Africa Protected Areas Congress (APAC), taking place in Kigali (Rwanda) on July 18th–23rd 2022, by presenting the People-to-People Declaration at Laboot at the Congress – a collective community declaration that presents a unified voice and vision about the present and future of “conservation” in East Africa.

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