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The Tanzanian Government Insists on Grabbing Maasai Land in Loliondo

The latest update on the Maasai's fight to retain their land rights in Ngorongoro District. As well as reports of subsequent developments - updates: 26th, 27th, 30th March, 4th, 8th,14th,15th, 18th April.

The Tanzanian government, through the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Khamis Kagasheki, is moving forward with a plan of taking 1,500 square kilometres which are essential dry season grazing land for the Maasai of Loliondo in Ngorongoro District.

The main economic activity and source of livelihood of the people of Loliondo is pastoralism – moving livestock between seasonal grazing areas - that compared to other land uses is relatively compatible with wildlife – and this is a major reason that their land is so sought after by the tourism industry and the Government.
In 1959 all people were evicted from the vast Serengeti by the British Government for the purpose of establishing the National Park. Among them the Maasai that were moved to Ngorongoro Conservation Area and also to Loliondo. Contrary to promises the Tanzanian government has continued with a greedy eye on lands that it wants for the exclusive use of hunting and photographic tourism. Currently this greed is focused on a corridor of land in Loliondo Division of Ngorongoro District.
In 1992 Otterlo Business Corporation Ltd - that’s not a “corporation” but an organisation managing hunting trips for royalty from the United Arab Emirates – was given the Loliondo Game Controlled Area - the whole of Loliondo Division - as a hunting block and since then their lease keeps being renewed by the Government – not the Maasai landowners. The core hunting area of OBC is the corridor of land bordering the National Park, but in theory they could hunt rats around the District Commissioners office. OBC do not have any land, but only what’s basically a hunting license. Nevertheless, OBC seem to think that they operate in some half protected area where they control the land while having to put up with customary landowners that they shower in charitable projects. When conflict flare up they get the support of the government. For the 2009 hunting season OBC together with Tanzanian authorities evicted people from the corridor that’s almost half the size of the Emirate of Dubai. In this operation at least 150 bomas were burnt to the ground, including grain stores and even some young livestock that were burnt to death. Some 60,000 heads of cattle were pushed into an extreme drought area and calves were left behind in the stampede. This significantly worsened the alarming rates of cattle deaths of the severe drought at the time. Many cases of beatings, humiliations and sexual assault have been reported. Several children were lost in the chaos and terror and one of them – 7-year-old Nashipai Gume from Arash – has not been found. The evicted people eventually moved back and many leaders “reconciled” with OBC.
In early 2011 the government again made a move to grab this corridor of land presenting a frightening land use plan that would turn the corridor into a “Game Controlled Area” as per the Wildlife Conservation Act No 5 of 2009. A Game Controlled Area was in colonial times an area where hunting, as opposed to an “Open Area”, was not permitted. Though gradually hunting blocks were established in Game Controlled Areas and since other land uses like pastoralism and agriculture were not restricted, and all Game Controlled Areas fell on village land, the name stayed on without any real meaning. Using this same name for a new area that’s not allowed to overlap with village land and where pastoralism and agriculture would not be allowed (hunting would of course be permitted) was almost certainly done with the intention of creating confusion and the Government is having some success with this. The land use plan was strongly rejected by local leaders because of its non-participatory nature and thinly disguised land grabbing purpose. Another attempt by the Government was when the village of Ololosokwan received a letter requesting the handing in of its land certificate, but then for a while the threat seemed to die down.
In November 2012 a crisis broke out when people in Ololosokwan found that Tanzania National Parks were planning to erect Serengeti NP border beacons on the land of the village. There were major demonstrations and the beacons were dropped back inside the National Park.
On 27th January 2013 the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism held “stakeholders’” meetings in Loliondo. He did not seem to grasp the issues and his only concrete idea was for “investors” to work together forming an association.
Currently there are many players in the tourism industry in Loliondo and none of them can be trusted, though occasionally some of them play by the rules entering proper contracts with the villages. The most destructive force among them is the Boston-based Thomson Safaris claiming 12,617 acres of grazing land as their own “Enashiva Nature Refuge” and harassing the pastoralists as “trespassers” while involved in an aggressive propaganda campaign for their “community-based project”. 
The last weekend of February the Minister returned to Loliondo with the message that the Game Controlled Area as per Wildlife Conservation Act of 2009 was the best “solution” for Loliondo.
To media the Minister was saying that the Maasai are “landless” and being “given” the land that they already have – except the corridor – under the condition that they form a Wildlife Management Area that’s presented as a way for communities to “benefit from wildlife” while in reality it’s a recipe to increase central government control. The move was described as “addressing historical injustices”. A historical injustice is actually what the Government seems determined to commit.
Then on 21st March after a brief meeting in Arusha with top district leaders the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism showed up again in Loliondo. Local leaders had got information that the minister was sent by the President to announce that the 1,500 square kilometre corridor would be taken by the Government as a Game Controlled Area to protect wildlife and water catchments. The local leaders refused to enter the District Council conference hall together with the Minister and demanded that the Minister should answer questions from people outside instead. This made the Minister leave in a fury.
The leaders and the citizen who were around waiting for the Minister talked to the media to express their views on the matter. Ololosokwan ward councillor Yannick Ndoinyo told media, “We are not ready to surrender even one meter of our land to investors for whatever reason” and several other leaders had the same message.
The following day all affected villages held meetings and a big meeting to discuss the way forward is planned for 25th March.
The people of Loliondo need help, as well as moral and material support, from anyone around the world with an idea about how to fight back or with a platform to speak from, and most needed of all is the support of those that have the fate of the landgrabbing government in their hand – the people of Tanzania.
Anyway, the Maasai of 2013 are NOT the Maasai of 1959!
Susanna Nordlund
Press release from Onesmo Olengurumwa of JUWASAWINGO
From 2011, blog post with the history of the corridor and OBC.
From 2011, Voices from Loliondo about the Land Use Plan
News piece on ITV television about the protest against the beacons of TANAPA

Update from Samwel Nangiria on the 26th March, 2013.

Dear ALL;

The govt long sought corridor is declared. The Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Ambassador Khamis Kagasheki addressed the media this afternoon at his office and he delivered the govt statement on the Loliondo village land. He said, the govt of Tanzania is establishing the corridor of 1,500 sq Km for both public and international interests. He added the current Loliondo Game controlled Area is 4000 sq Km and the govt will take 1,500 for the corridor and the remaining 2,500 will be the village land. He added, wildlife management areas will be established from the 2,500 sq Km and the remaining will be left for pastoralism. He stressed, the govt will provide social services to the Maasai (.....), including livestock services. He also said the Maasai have got to keep few livestock as per the carrying capacity of the left area.

He concluded by saying his ministry will work in collaboration with the Ministry of lands and settlement to ensure that the boundaries of two authorities, Land and wildlife are created through a participatory land Use plan. For us, if this plans goes through, this will be the end of the Maasai and the Serenget Ecosystem. We will be in the meetings tonight with leaders to work out a plan for tomorow.

From various parts of the villages, am told people have started crying, most of them being desperate and helpless.....

Immediate steps by communities NOW:

1. Leaders have promised to resign, most likely tomorrow
2. We will try to make sure that the case is filed and a court injunction is applied by Friday.
3. A CSOs meeting in Arusha or Dar will also be convened to put forward a statement on the against the govt decision.
4. The resigned councilors and village leaders will also issue a statement to show their position and why they have resigned.
Many other internal and physical plans are on going!
5. Meetings are happening now in various parts of the villages...

Support Needed NOW

1. Wider Media coverage
2. Avaaz campaign should be activated and the Maasai being part of it.
3. Financial Resources to support the communities especially court case
4. Pro Bono support from law firms with international perspective.

This is what i have got say now.....;

Samwel Nangiria;
NGO network Coordinator- Ngorongoro
+255 765 198 331

Update from Robert Kamakia on the 27th March, 3013.

Dear All,

Apart from the information provided by Samwel on his e-mail, I got interrogated by district security officer on my way to home from office.

He asked me to clue him on what had happened on the meeting conducted by political leaders at afternoon.I told him that I am not a political leaders and I dont think if his questions are relevant to me.

our discussion took about 30 min but unfortunately I did not brief him anything, Lastly he told me that the government shall not not be shocked by useless people, he added that he will call me for detail discussion.

National security are already settle at OBC camp today to see the reaction of the community on the matter,In other hand the opposition leaders from the national level are also organizing the big meeting in Loliondo to support the community to raise up their voices.

The reliable sources of info clued that the national security will not allow the community meeting to take place as agreed but the opposition leaders also are trying to organize the meeting on the same day and they have insisted the community to participate on the rally.

Urgent requirement.

1. Serious engagement with international media to report the event.
2. Serious strategy to protect human right defenders.
3. Engagement with opposition party to participate on the event and bring changes.

many thanks

Robert Kamakia

Maasai fury as plan to lure Arabian Gulf tourists threatens their ancestral land

Tribal leaders vow to resign official posts in protest after nomads are denied access to their pastures in Serengeti 'wildlife corridor' to make way for Dubai-based luxury safari company. 

Jason Patinkin in Nairobi. The Observer, Saturday 30 March 2013 14.00 GMT


A battle has erupted in Tanzania over the future of 30,000 Maasai people who claim the expansion of a big-game hunting reserve for foreigners will lead to their eviction from ancestral lands. 

Tanzania's ministry of tourism announced this week that it will set aside 1,500 square kilometres bordering the Serengeti national park for a "wildlife corridor". The Maasai will as a result be prevented from getting to their pasture land in the corridor, destroying their traditional nomadic cattle-herding lifestyle. Access will however be granted to a Dubai-based luxury hunting and safari company.

Daniel Ngoitiko, a Maasai politician representing part of the corridor, said the announcement amounted to an existential threat for thousands of Maasai tribespeople. "My people's livelihood depends on livestock totally," he said. "We will die if we don't have land to graze." 

NGOs say nearly all of the Maasai living in Loliondo district, where the proposed corridor will be, rely on cattle herding for food and to raise money for expenses such as school fees.

Fifty-five Maasai leaders have petitioned the government against the corridor, which would place out of bounds savannah that is lush and grassy in the wet season and dusty scrubland in the dry. They have vowed to resign their posts as local administrators at a mass rally and protest in the Loliondo town of Wasso on Tuesday. Ngoitiko, who wraps himself in the traditional bright red cloth of the Maasai, will march 20km with his constituents to the demonstration. 

Ngoitiko said violence could not be ruled out if the government were to proceed. "We will fight against it until the last person is gone," he said.

Despite the passionate resistance to the proposals, the Tanzanian government appears determined to push ahead with the proposed corridor. The minister for natural resources and tourism, Khamis Kagasheki, told one newspaper this week: "If the civic leaders want to resign, they can go ahead. There is no government in the world that can just let an area so important to conservation to be wasted away by overgrazing."

 Samwel Nangiria, government programme manager for a group of local NGOs, told the Observer that the Maasai lifestyle, which forbids eating wild game, is harmonious with nature. "The government does not appreciate the way that the Maasai are living with wildlife," he said. "They've been using it for centuries, living with wildlife all over."

The Maasai have followed seasonal rains with their cattle across what is now northern Tanzania and southern Kenya since pre-colonial times. But they have been gradually squeezed out of their territory. The process began in 1959 when the colonial British evicted the tribe from the Serengeti.

"My grandfather was born in the Serengeti where the national park is," Ngoitiko said, arguing that the idea of further relocation was unacceptable. "The land we are claiming is ours because we inherited it from our parents."

Today, of the million-plus Tanzanian Maasai population, at least 66,000 live in the 4,000sq km Loliondo district. The proposed corridor will reduce their land by nearly 40%. The Loliondo highlands are nestled between two jewels of Tanzania's tourist industry – the Serengeti national park to the west and the Ngorongoro conservation area (NCA) to the south. To the east lie the salt flats of LakeNatron, while to the north is the Kenyan border.

Crucially, the reduction in land access would come at a time when climate change is already placing the tribe's lifestyle under pres sure. Jill Nicholson, programme director for local NGO the Women's Pastoralist Council, said: "The rainy seasons are coming later and that's putting stress on water sources."

The highlands are crucial for the June to November dry season.

"The area which is being established in the corridor is used in the dry season grazing," said Nangiria.

"This is the time they need it most so they can have a fallback. Another reason is the wildebeest are coming to calve in Loliondo, so the Maasai have to have access to the highland to keep their cattle away from possible diseases brought by the migrating wildebeest."

The principal hunting outfit which will be able to exploit the corridor is the Ortello Business Corporation of United Arab Emirates. The OBC has operated in Loliondo for 20 years, flying over high-profile clients such as Prince Andrew and the United Arab Emirates royal family on 747s which land on a private airstrip. But their clients' wealth has not filtered down to the Maasai.

Ngoitiko said the hunting lodges did not employ local people, and skirmishes had broken out between herders and OBC security.

In 2009, Maasai and national police clashed after the government tried to force evictions, allegedly to allow the OBC to hunt. Ngoitiko's younger brother Paul said he lost 50 cattle because they could not reach pasture. Paul remembers how losing livestock, a source of identity for Maasai men, broke his father's will. "During the morning he would ask, 'how many livestock have died today?' When you mentioned the number he didn't even speak."

Paul also claims that police burnt down his family's bomas – homes made of mud, thatch, and cow dung. After protests, the government has allowed the people to return, but a court case is still in progress to decide their future.

The government tried to evict Maasai from Loliondo again last year, but backed down after an outcry led by international advocacy group Avaaz. According to campaign director Ian Bassin "nearly a million people called on [Tanzanian president Jakaya] Kikwete to stop the evictions of the Maasai. The government is responsiveto global opinion."

Kikwete has a record of dismissing the Maasai lifestyle. This month, he told a group of pastoralists that "living a nomadic life is not productive".

Paul Ngoitiko disagrees, and on Tuesday he will march with his people in protest. "We have our way of living," he said. "Without land we cannot keep livestock, and without livestock it is a kind of death."


 Lush Garden Hotel, Arusha, April 4, 2013. 


 Loliondo Game Controlled Area East of Serengeti National Park. It encompasses the Loliondo and Sale Divisions of Ngorongoro District. The area covers the entire Ngorongoro District with the exception of the Ngorongoro Division. There are many villages in the said area, which are recognized by the Land Act No.5 of 1999 and the Local Government (District Authority) Act No.7 of 1982. The villages in the area are, among others, Ololosokwan, Soitsambu, Oloipiri, Olorien, Maaloni, Arash, Malambo and Piyaya. It important from the very beginning to make clear that enactment  of  Wildlife Conservation Act No.5 of 2009 neither altered the legal status of land ownership in the area nor transferred the ownership to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism. It should be clearly understood that although the Director of Wildlife has legal powers to grant hunting permits for the game controlled area the same has no legal mandate whatsoever regarding the land of the said villages. For that matter the neither the Wildlife Conservation Act of 1974 nor its predecessor has repealed either the Land Act no 5 or the Local Government District Authority Act no 7 of 1982 which confers the right to land to the exiting villages located within the Loliondo Game Controlled Area. 

In 1992 the Government granted a hunting permit to Brigadier Mohamed Abdulrahim Al-Ali through Otterlo Business Corporation Limited (hereinafter OBC) to hunt in the villages within the Loliondo and Sale Divisions. The permit which has been renewed every five years ever since, did not extinguish the rights of the people to own, use and live in their ancestral land in legally established villages. 

Despites such reality, the Government has been going out of its ways to deliberately mislead the public about the ownership of land in the area. The Government has been doing so to protect the invading investor. Specifically, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism together with the Central Government at Arusha Region and Ngorongoro District and at time have used force to evict Maasai pastoralists from the area. The Government has been using false claims such as invasion of the area by illegal immigrants from Kenya, degradation of the environment, increase of human and livestock population. These claims are baselessly and are maliciously used to misinform the public and justify the ill intention of the government to protect OBC. 

On March 21, 2013 the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Hon. Ambassador Khamisi Khagasheki, issued a public statement on this same conflict. The statement was to the effect that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism intend to review boundaries and size of Loliondo Game Controlled Area from 4,000 to 1500 kilometers square. The statement is available on the website of Ministry for Natural Resources and Tourism. The minister informed the general public that it has decided to reduce the size of the Loliondo Game Controlled Area in order to solve long existing conflict in the area, to rescue the ecology of Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Loliondo Game Controlled Area. 

In the same statement the minister further explained the reasons for reducing the size of the Game Controlled area as to protect wildlife-breading sites, wildlife migratory corridors and water sources for the national Interest and the interest of residents of the area. The minister also mentioned in the statement that the residents of the area may establish a Wildlife Management Area in the remaining areas left to the villages. 

In response to the statement made by the minister, We, civil society organizations being defenders of land rights and human rights which have been following this conflict with keen interest would like to informed the public as follows; 

  1. It is utterly not true that the Government is giving 2,500 kmto the aforementioned villages. The truth is that Loliondo Game Controlled Area which estimated to be 4,000km2 is within legally recognized villages and that the Government is grabbing 1,500 km2 from the land falling within village boundaries.
  2. OBC has never been given any area as the minister is misleadingly by informing the public in his public statement saying “serikali ipo tayari kuangalia upya eneo kubwa alilopewa OBC na ikibidi litapunguzwa…” The truth is that OBC was only given a hunting concession to hunt in Loliondo Game Controlled Area, which is within the boundaries of legally recognized villages. On the other hand the minister making the public believe that the government has contravened the law that prohibits foreigner to own land in Tanzania save for derivative right given by Tanzania investment center.
  3. The decission of the Government to grab the 1,500 kmis set to worsen the conflict, which has been simmering for the last 20 long years. The claim by the minister that the Government is giving villages 2,500 km2 of land is lying in broad daylight. It is the villages, which have to plan how to use their respective village land since the entire LGCA  including the 2,500 km2  and the 1,500 km2  are within the boundaries of these legally recognized villages.
  4. To justify the illegal appropriation of the land belonging to the villages the minister also claimed that the Government is doing so in order to rescue the ecology. The hidden reasons however is to accommodate OBC by breaking the law and ignoring the wished of the legal residents of the area. In fact wild animals, which OBC is subjecting to indiscriminate hunting, are taking refuge near to Maasai bomas to run away from hunters.
  5. nother baseless claim made by the minister in his deliberate attempt to mislead the public is that the Government decision to appropriate the 1,500 kmis also meant to protect water sources within the area. If that was a true agenda the same Government should not have been playing blind while OBC constructed its base camp within 10 meters from Olosae water source which is the source of water for both wildlife and residents of Soit Sambu, Arash, Ololosokwa and Kirtalo.
  6. The press statement did not take in mind good governance and the rule of law. The Wildlife Conservation Act No.5 of 2009 clearly states in Section 16(5) “For the Purposes of subsection (4), the Minister shall ensure that no land faIling under the village land is included in the game controlled areas.” 

  We the civil society organizations, based on arguments above, urge the Government of Tanzania to;  

  1. Immediately cease its plan to grab land belonging to villages and hand it over to the investor under guise of public interest. It should instead admit that the entire Loliondo Game Controlled Area is within legal village boundaries in the Loliondo and Sale Divisions.
  2. The Government desists from its deliberate misleading propaganda that the 1,500km2 land it is gabbing is not within the boundaries of legal villages. It should leave alone the villages to manage their land according to the Village Land Act No.5 of 1999 and Local Government (District Authority) Act No.7 of 1982.
  3. The Government should tell the pubic the plain truth that it is aiming at giving OBC the 1,500km2   instead of providing baseless claims, which are intended to win public support.
  4. The Government should stop intimidating residents of Loliondo and Sale Division, their representatives, human rights activists, civil society organizations and journalists who are following up this conflict. It is also trampling on their right to get information and express opinions protected by the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania and international legal instruments.
  5. The Government should stop interfering with the judiciary.  As we stand there is a constitutional case in court (MISC CIVIL CAUSE NO 15/2010) at the High Court of Tanzania at Arusha in which the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism and OBC are among the respondents.
  6. The Government should stop its propaganda that activists and foreign organizations are the one fanning the conflict. It should rather be reminded that the land induced tension in the Loliondo Game Controlled Area has been simmering for the past 20 years following discontent of the residents of the area since the Government brought OBC.
  7. The Government should desist from misusing the peace and security organs particularly the police force which it often uses to forcefully evict people leaving behind untold damages to the vulnerable especially women and children. 


  1. Pastoralists Indigenous NGOs Forum -PINGOs Forum
  2. Tanzania Land Alliance- (TALA)
  3. Haki Ardhi
  4. Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC)
  5. Tanzania Human Rights Defenders
  6. Tanzania Gender Network Program (TGNP)
  7. Tanzania Natural Resource Forum (TNRF)
  8. Community Research and Development Services (CORDS)
  9. Ujamaa Community Resource Team (CRT)
  10. Pastoralists Women Council (PWC)
  11. Ngorongoro NGOs Network (NGONET)
  12. Tanzania Pastoralists Community Forum (TPCF)
  13. SEREMI 

Update from Sawell Nangiria on the 8th March, 2013

Dear all;

hope you are doing well. loliondo has been heating up for the last two weeks now with many initiatives and engagements. The biggest part of the engagement was the CCM the ruling party mission to the district on 6th March, 2013. The mission was led by Muigulu Lameck Nchemba who is a deputy secretary general of CCM in Tanzania. Others are Mary Chatanda, CCM Aru sha regional secretary, Michael Laizer Lekule MP for Longido constituency, Christopher Ole Sendeka, MP for Simanjiro constituency. The commmunity provided its stand, and told them that they will never leave their land, and will fight to the last person. The mission promised to meet the Prime Minister on Thursday this week and on Friday, they will be meeting the president Kikwete. The mission further promised that the decision will be made on Friday and asked the community and particularly women to wait for them to provide the solution. Last week the govt banned all the meetings in Loliondo, particularly joint meetings because of what they call security and political reasons. The govt letter is attached.

Before the mission gets to Dar, the Minister of natural Resources and Tourism, issued yet another statement to procliam govt position that they will continue with the decision of establishing the game controlled Area. This statement will now push for community immediate actions, including demonstration and other physical actions.

We will be having meetings in different places today to let the community know further govt decision. The statement is in the link below.

Kind regrads;

A front united: CCM, Chadema speak out against govt’s plans to divvy up Loliondo

Monday, 08 April 2013 08:48

By The Citizen Correspondents

Loliondo. The ruling CCM and opposition Chadema have faulted a controversial plan by the government to subdivide the Loliondo Game Controlled Area as a measure to end its long-standing land dispute with the Maasai Community.

Both parties have opposed the government decision to split the 4,000 square kilometre area into two parts, one for the Maasai community and the other for conservation purposes.

CCM, which had formed a committee last week to probe the decision to divide the area as part of efforts to solve the dispute which has lasted for 20 years, said yesterday that it had referred the issue to Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda.

The committee chairman, Mr Mwigulu Nchemba, who is also CCM’s deputy secretary general, said preliminary investigations have indicated that the decision announced by the minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Mr Khamis Kagasheki about two weeks ago was contrary to the “laws of the land and would adversely affect the local community.”

Other committee members include, Mr Christopher ole Sendeka, who is the MP for Simanjiro, Mr Lekule Laizer, the MP for Longido and Ms Mary Chatanda, the Arusha CCM secretary for Arusha Region.

“After meeting the district’s political committee, local and community leaders as well as district government officials, we are now satisfied that the decision to partition the area is not the best option.

The area to be held by the government is the lifeline for the communities. We are told that is where water and greener pastures are available for cattle,” Mr Nchemba told residents of Olorien Magaiduru at a public rally.

Chadema leaders also addressed a public rally last week at Soitsambu village where they urged residents of villages in the Loliondo area not to accept the government decision to partition the area.

Chadema’s director for Legal and Human Rights Tundu Lissu and shadow minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Peter Msigwa, told villagers to support the opposition party in opposing the government decision.

Mr Kagasheki announced the government’s decision late last month, saying the government has decided to partition the area with the communities living in villages re-allocated 2,500 square kilometers, while a portion of 1,500 square kilometres that borders the Serengeti National Park will be taken by the government for conservation.

According to Mr Kagasheki, the partition offered the best prospects for a lasting solution to the conflict that also involves an investor, United Arab Emirates-based Ortello Business Corporation, which has operated in the area since 1992.

Immediately after Mr Kagasheki’s announcement, local leaders in the area threatened to resign. They said, they would also mobilise residents to return to the Serengeti plains where they originally stayed before they were relocated to Loliondo by British colonialists.

The dispute started when the government allocated a portion of the area, which has water sources and has greener pastures, to an investor in 1992 for game hunting and other businesses.

The investor started restricting the entry of the Maasai Community, who had depended on the area for grazing and accessing water for their animals.

The area under dispute is part of a migration route for wild animals moving to and from the Maasai Mara National Park in Kenya. Wildebeest also go to the area to give birth.

Experts say its conservation is important for good of the Serengeti ecosystem.

Reporting by Mussa Juma and Peter Saramba -

Sunday, 14 April 2013

The “Other” Part of Ngorongoro District – A Few Reports that I got from Ngorongoro Conservation Area

I cut this out from an un-published blog post that was becoming too long and too old since I had problems making busy people check if I had understood their information correctly and since there were too many worrying developments in Loliondo that have since grown into a full declaration of war from the government (I’ve written about it here and here). I’ll shortly also post the information I had got about Thomson Safaris and about the “corridor”/OBC.

Hunger in NCA and a parliamentary committee recommends that Oldoinyo Lengai also be placed under the NCAA. Plus an almost unreported attack on Kakesio by a WMA “investor” from neighbouring district.

This blog is about Loliondo and I do need to study Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) more closely, but I’d like to share some worrying information that has reached me thanks to Solomon ole Yiapa, Kinama Marite and other people from the area.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area
The last months (or years really) have seen a food crisis in Ngorongoro Conservation Area and I’ve got the information from Kinama Marite that the death rate that for the past 36 years has been around 3 children a month has increased to 12 to 15, and 17 to 20 during the dry season from July to November, and this is due to malnutrition. Livestock numbers have not recovered from the serious drought in 2009, there have been more droughts and the situation is worsened by forbidden access to key grazing areas and areas suitable for avoiding disease in this much vaunted multiple land use area to where the Maasai were moved from the Serengeti in 1959 and where their interests were supposed to take precedence.
Grazing in the northern highland forest is strictly prohibited by NCAA and more areas are reportedly being grabbed, like for hotel construction in Esirwa by Zara Tours and there’s encroachment into Kakesio by Mwiba Holdings, investor at Makao WMA in Meatu District.
Though the most direct cause of hunger protested by people in NCA is that when there is rain and people in other places plant their gardens this is not happening in NCA as cultivation, including for subsistence is banned since an earlier ban was re-imposed in 2009 under pressure from UNESCO, IUCN and others. So people are dying of hunger in an area with – reported – tourism revenue of US$ 50 million in the latest fiscal year from gate fees alone.
The people, through their registered villages, have no control over their land since everything is under the rule of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA). In November 2012 the reports grew louder that food aid was needed and Ngorongoro councillors tried talking to the Arusha Regional Commissioner who denied that there was a food crisis. The Pastoral Council – a local body supposed to represent the interests of people in NCA – receives a tiny fraction of the gate fees and paid in August for 3,600 tons of maize from the Strategic Grain Reserve that the government failed to timely distribute. Recent drought has crashed livestock prices and rocketed the price of maize. One bag of maize now costs Tshs 90,000 that nearly 80% of people can’t afford. Young people are moving to town to look for paid work, usually as watchmen, to rescue their families, but the pay is very low and can’t satisfy their needs. Once they move to town the families are often left without anyone to take care of livestock. It’s widely believed that the aim of the NCA policies of draconian restrictions on human activities and social services is to let nature take its course forcing people to move out of the area.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Lands, Natural Resources and Environment witnessed the food crisis on their tour of the northern zone in November and the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism visited the area and declared that the government was very willing to send food aid – if an official letter was sent by the NCAA, but the District Commissioner and NCAA refused to send such a letter. On 21st December some pastoralist NGOs issued a press release about the food crisis and then the DC released an official report saying that emergency relief indeed was needed. Later, in January the Standing Committee dismissed the report as not showing the seriousness of the problem. 
The government has distributed over 500 tonnes of maize while NCAA has distributed 300 tonnes that reportedly was not in the best condition for human consumption. Oxfam have donated 300 bags of fortified flour. This is not a solution for people that do not want to be fed like sick calves. And yes, the minister showed up again without saying anything of substance, according to my sources.
It’s currently rainy season and people in NCA have milk and wild roots and vegetables, but nobody knows what will happen after this season.
Since January several people have been arrested in NCA for planting potatoes.
Here’s a video about the protest against the food crisis.
After having visited NCA, where they could observe the food crisis, the Standing Committee on Lands, Natural Resources and Environment publicly recommended that Oldoinyo Lengai, an active volcano and the sacred mountain of the Maasai, in the village of Engaresero should also be placed under the NCAA. There are some members of the committee that seem to show some concern for suffering people, but the outcome of much of what they have a look at is bizarre in a frightening way. This idea has been proposed at least twice before and for obvious reasons it has been strongly rejected by people living in Engaresero. “Investors” have shown interest in the area, but the reasons expressed by the committee is that Oldoinyo Lengai needs a protected status. Some years ago even the president spoke out about having the mountain and the adjacent Lake Natron, the only important nesting site in East Africa for lesser flamingos, placed under NCAA. The main threat against Lake Natron is the Government’s own plans for a soda ash plant.
In 2011 Engaresero received the same kind of letter as received and protested by Ololosokwan, - a letter demanding that they should hand in the village land certificate. I do need to know more about Engaresero.
By chance I got information from Solomon ole Yaipa from Kakesio that on 2nd December 2012 in the far south of Ngorongoro District, in Olengopuken near Ngairish in Kakesio ward of Ngorongoro Conservation Area bordering Meatu District in Simiyu Region (that’s been cut off from Shinyanga Region) 18 Maasai bomas were burnt by a company called Mwiba Holdings. At the moment no people where living there but they would have returned on 27th December when they usually move their livestock to the area. The company was arguing that the area was theirs – Mwiba is the investor at Makao WMA in Meatu - but maps show that the border to Makao village is 14 kilometres away and old beacons have also recently been found by warriors. The burning of bomas was reported to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) and after weeks of inaction a technical committee that would meet with Mwiba in Makao was set up.
I wonder how many similar incidents go unreported. The only chance for anything like this to be known is that some educated person from the area isn’t too comfortable and busy to move on in life to voice out.
Solomon reported that on 15th January Mwiba did eventually agree that the area was not theirs and promised to compensate for the destruction that they had caused. The affected people are still waiting for this compensation, and there have been reports about Mwiba harassing herders from Kakesio. Local people have reported that Mwiba are expanding their area toward NCA and are involved in illegal road construction across grazing areas to take their clients to enjoy the Lake Eyasi basin. Mwiba have destroyed beacons that were erected in 1992 to mark the border between the two districts and have created their own border by painting trees, and clearing the bush. There’s a border conflict between Makao and Kakesio villages and this is what Mwiba are basing their claim on. There is also evidence that Mwiba and associates are hunting inside NCA and very much with knowledge by some NCAA officers.
Mwiba have got involved with leaders in the new Simiyu Region to continue encroaching into Kakesio. On 12th April NCAA representatives held a meeting with the community and promised to find a solution.
I have later got conflicting reports about the number of bomas that were burnt, if some of them were Barbaig, and it seems like a large number of Barbaig bomas could also have been burnt inside Makao WMA.
I do need more details about this conflict.
Mwiba Holdings (part of the Tanzanian Mawalla Group) is the investor at Makao Wildlife Management Area where Mwiba Wildlife Reserve and tented camp are managed by Ker & Downey Tanzania (“non-consumptive” tourism, re-named Legendary Adventures) that’s in the same group of companies as Tanzania Game Trackers Safaris (hunting) and Friedkin Conservation Fund (“philanthropy”) – all owned by American billionaire Thomas H. Friedkin. A WMA is supposed to be a manner of making “communities” benefit from wildlife, but in reality it’s a recipe for advancing the position of investors and central government. Mwiba were in November 2011 involved in brutal evictions from Makao WMA under the orders of the Regional Commissioner of Shinyanga. The letter from the Meatu District Executive Officer’s office detailing the assistance needed was sent to Friedkin Conservation Trust/TGTS. Here’s the evictions report. Mwiba are unsurprisingly also very involved in “community empowerment” – just like other criminals like Thomson Safaris and OBC - and the WMA is being facilitated by Frankfurt Zoological Society that in 2010 recruited Thomson’s former “Enashiva” manager Daniel Yamat.
Susanna Nordlund


Permission to post this piece is being sought:

Tanzania's Maasai battle game hunters for grazing land

In a remote corner of northern Tanzania, Boeing 747 planes land on a private airstrip, trucks with United Arab Emirates (UAE) number plates drive across the plains, and anyone with a cell phone receives an unlikely text message:

"Dear guest, welcome to UAE."

For centuries, the sprawling savannah in the Arusha region of the East African nation was home to the Maasai people, but these days it can feel more like Dubai, one of the states that make up the UAE.

That is because this chunk of land in Arusha's Loliondo area near the Serengeti National Park has been leased to an Emirati hunting company called the Ortello Business Corporation (OBC).

Since 1992, OBC has flown in wealthy clients to shoot lions and leopards, angering nomadic Maasai cattle herders who are blocked from pastures in the hunting grounds.

Now, Tanzania's government wants to give more land to the hunters by establishing a 1,500 sq km (579 sq mile) wildlife corridor exclusively for OBC.

The plan would displace about 30,000 people and affect tens of thousands more who graze cattle there in the dry season.

The Maasai have erupted in protest, saying their livelihoods will be destroyed. More than 90% of Loliondo's Maasai depend on rearing livestock on seasonal grasses there.

"Without land we cannot live," said Naishirita Tenemeri, a mother of three.

Ms Tenemeri raises cows and goats in Loliondo to pay for food and her children's schooling.

The Maasai have a history of losing their land in Tanzania since the British moved them from the Serengeti in 1959.

The former coloniser guaranteed future land rights, but post-independence governments further restricted grazing rights and the latest proposal would remove almost 40% of Loliondo's highland prairie and forested mountains.

Ruling party cards spurned

Earlier this month, Ms Tenemeri, wrapped in a traditional red-checked blanket known as a shuka, joined 1,000 people, mostly women, under thorny acacia trees at Olorien village to protest at the plans.

Some walked for days for the chance to show their anger by publicly giving up their membership cards for Tanzania's ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM).

"If I have no land then I have no place to deliver my children," said Morkelekei Gume, as she tossed her CCM card to the ground.

"My son is in secondary school because of the grass from here.

"If they need my land they can kill me."

The women have been so outspoken because they bear the worst of the evictions, left jobless to care for children while the men move to cities, where many find work as security guards.

They have also led the protests since local politicians, who had said they backed the campaign against the wildlife corridor, later refused to resign from the party as they had promised to do.

The women's outcry spurred the deputy secretary general of the CCM to trek all the way to Olorien, a collection of huts eight hours by four-wheel-drive from the region's main city of Arusha.

CCM officials then denounced the planned corridor, but the ministry of tourism, and by extension Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, stands firm.

Mr Kikwete, who will stand down at the next election, in 2015, after two terms in office, has tried for almost a decade to give more land to OBC.

During a 2009 drought, he sent national police to help OBC block herders from a vital water source metres away from the company's current hunting ground.

The Maasai say more than half of their cattle died as a result.

Isaac Mollel, the executive directive of OBC's Tanzania branch, says people are only blocked from water resources during the July to December hunting season - which coincides with the dry season.

"If there is hunting going on, it is going to be dangerous if someone comes around and grazes," he said.

Royal visitors

For John Moina, who exports cattle from Loliondo to Kenya, Mr Kikwete's message was clear.

"The government is saying OBC is better than citizens of Tanzania," he said.

But Mr Kikwete's government can earn more income in Loliondo from tourism through OBC - which has catered for English royalty like Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, and the UAE royal family - than livestock.

And Loliondo is ideal for developing tourism.

It is rich in game with few visitors, and borders the Serengeti, Kenya's Maasai Mara National Park, and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

Tourism Minister Khamis Kagasheki defends the evictions, saying the project will promote conservation as the Maasai are exhausting the land.

"These 1,500 sq km are a crucial breeding area for wildlife, a corridor for the iconic great migration of wildebeest, and a critical water catchment area," he said in a press release.

However, academics say the Maasai barely affect wildlife.

"I would question those who say that the Maasai create more of a threat to wildlife than the hunting OBC is doing," said Benjamin Gardner of the University of Washington, who has studied Maasai land issues for two decades.

The Maasai rarely hunt, and use the corridor's highlands to avoid wildebeest that give birth in the lowlands and can spread disease to cattle.

If Loliondo's 66,000 Maasai plus their livestock are hemmed into only 2,500 sq km, they may overstress land and wildlife.

"There is no big drought now," said Samwel Nangiria, who heads a group of Maasai non-governmental organisations called NGO Network.

"But if they get the corridor it is going to affect twice as many people as 2009."

Regardless, Mr Kagasheki has vigorously defended the government's right to appropriate the land, accusing the Maasai of living in Loliondo illegally and blaming the unrest on foreign-funded groups.

OBC too points the finger at NGOs and says it has invested in the area over the last 20 years, digging five boreholes, building classrooms and a hospital.

"The people communicating for the Maasai are not the Maasai themselves. They make sure that [there is] no clear understanding between the investors and the indigenous people of Loliondo," Mr Mollel says.

In fact, he says their current five-year concession was supposed to allow them access to the whole of the 4,000 sq km Loliondo area - so the smaller corridor is actually a concession to the Maasai.

He also says that, in the government's eyes, the Maasai do not own the land, and it will help protect a drought-prone area.

Thirteen civil society groups from across Tanzania said in a statement that the Maasai do have title deeds for the corridor and the government is "going out of its ways to deliberately mislead the public".

Maasai representatives plan to take the government to court over the corridor, but fear this may not lead to a quick resolution of the problem as a case from 2009 remains unheard.

Mr Nangiria believes there has been deliberate administrative blocking of their legal action as it is a constitutional case which requires three judges, but there is only one judge in Arusha and the other judges have yet to be sent for.

"The government should stop interfering with the judiciary," the civil society groups said in a statement.

So the women under the acacia trees may be running out of options.

"Our government is taking us from our land," said Paulina Leysa to a group of fellow protesters.

"We are crying to anyone who can help."