Land Grabs in Loliondo, Tanzania Affecting the Maasai

March 28, 2013

By Madeline Hall

The Maasai people of Tanzania have been subjected to repeated instances of land grabbing by the Tanzanian government for many years. Most recently, the Maasai of Loliondo in the Ngorongoro District have resisted the appropriation of land from the Maasai village-controlled land for the establishment of a wildlife corridor. The wildlife corridor was proposed by the Ministry for public and international interests, expanding tourism activity to the area as well as increasing the Otterlo Business Corporation (OBC)’s access to big game hunting. OBC benefits from a hunting concession in Loliondo, allowing the corporation to hunt game frequently on the lands designated for the Maasai.

Much unrest preceded the government decision on the wildlife corridor; four visits to Loliondo conducted by the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism were met with protest and refusals to meet with the Minister. A community meeting of representatives from the entire district was held on March 25, 2013 in order to draft a court case that would enable the Maasai and district residents to apply for court injunction. The resolutions made by the community leaders included: ending the presence of OBC and its use of Maasai natural resources at the group’s cost; resignations of politicians in the event of the establishment of the corridor; filing a representative suit resisting the creation of the corridor and seeking a return to the Serengeti; and the combination of a community task force and media strategy to draw greater awareness to the current issue.

Despite the Maasai’s demonstrated resistance and stated claims, on March 26, 2013, Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Ambassador Khamis Kagasheki announced that the Tanzanian government will establish a 1,500 km2 wildlife corridor that will increase OBC access to destructive hunting and that will limit village land to 2,500 km2. The Minister promised the provision of social services to the Maasai, including livestock services. However, he also called for fewer livestock to reside on the land in response to the limited resources. 

The Maasai are semi-nomadic and pastoralists, relying on cattle for their livelihood. By reducing the village land as such, the Tanzanian government has limited the viability of the Maasai lifestyle. Furthermore, the land taken by the government is essential dry season grazing land for their livestock, thereby limiting their access to crucial land resources. Having been evicted from the Serengeti to make way for the British-instated National Park in 1959, and having been subjected to previous governmental infringements on their land, the Maasai’s current lifestyle and livelihood are jeopardized even further by this decision.

A good blog that has been  following the crisis: