Tanzania Maasai Evicted from Ancestral Land

+ aljazeera

Herders are resisting efforts to drive them from traditional pastures in order to make space for wildlife hunters.
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 Last Modified: 08 May 2013 12:04

Lolyondo, Tanzania – The Tanzanian government has ordered thousands of Maasai tribespeople to abandon traditional grazing lands to make way for what they say will be a conservation site.

But the Maasai are refusing to leave their ancestral land. They say the real reason they are being forced out is to give a Dubai-based hunting company exclusive access.

The hunting company says that it will bring clients in for a six-month season to shoot for trophies – and the Maasai can graze their cattle out of season. However, researchers say that the livestock are a part of the area’s ecosystem.

Al Jazeera’s Peter Greste met the tribe, who maintain that the dispute is not just about land, but about the continuing existence of their way of life.

Orkoskos Yaile is defying the government and attempting to remain on the land. His blood is in this land, he says. His ancestors are buried here, and he swears he will be too.
Orkoskos Yaile is defying the government and attempting to remain on the land. His blood is in this land, he says. His ancestors are buried here, and he swears he will be too.
Giraffes roam the plains of northern Tanzania, making the area highly attractive to hunters.
Giraffes roam the plains of northern Tanzania, making the area highly attractive to hunters.
Maasai pastoralists have lived on this land for generations, they say, and are resisting government and corporate efforts to drive them out.
Maasai pastoralists have lived on this land for generations, they say, and are resisting government and corporate efforts to drive them out.
The herders here blame the eviction on OBC, a Dubai-based hunting company, which brings tourists from the Gulf states to shoot the wildlife as trophies.
The herders here blame the eviction on OBC, a Dubai-based hunting company, which brings tourists from the Gulf states to shoot the wildlife as trophies.
The government plans to move 30,000 of the Maasai tribe out of the wildlife corridor of 15,000sq km. The hunting firm says it has done nothing wrong, and the herders' flocks will be allowed to graze six months of the year
The government plans to move 30,000 of the Maasai tribe out of the wildlife corridor of 15,000sq km. The hunting firm says it has done nothing wrong, and the herders’ flocks will be allowed to graze six months of the year
Maasai elders called a community meeting to discuss potential steps to avoid moving from their ancestral home.
Maasai elders called a community meeting to discuss potential steps to avoid moving from their ancestral home.
Thousands came from across the region to hear about negotiations and elders' strategy, but the meeting concluded without a firm agreement.
Thousands came from across the region to hear about negotiations and elders’ strategy, but the meeting concluded without a firm agreement.
Despite being pastoralists, Maasai tribespeople also hunt - for food, not trophies.
Despite being pastoralists, Maasai tribespeople also hunt – for food, not trophies.
Masaai women said they were "crying for their lost land", and begged leaders to help allow them to stay.
Masaai women said they were “crying for their lost land”, and begged leaders to help allow them to stay.
Some of those gathered at the community meeting told Al Jazeera that they were angry at the Dubai company for creating a rift between the tribe and the government.
Some of those gathered at the community meeting told Al Jazeera that they were angry at the Dubai company for creating a rift between the tribe and the government.
More talks between Maasai representatives and the government are expected soon.
More talks between Maasai representatives and the government are expected soon.
Ol Donyo Lengai, an active volcano, provides the spectacular backdrop to the traditional grazing lands. The Maasai argue that the dispute is about more than just land, it is about the future existence of their culture.
Ol Donyo Lengai, an active volcano, provides the spectacular backdrop to the traditional grazing lands. The Maasai argue that the dispute is about more than just land, it is about the future existence of their culture.

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IMAGES: Peter Greste/Al Jazeera

NEWS: Al Jazeera

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