Wednesday, 3 December 2014

National Parks and people-free spaces

As consumers, what effect do we have on what is grown on the other side of the world?
Futures Forum: Saving the rainforests....... indigenous communities' and palm oil corporations' commitment to "zero-deforestation"

As users of fossil fuels, how much 'greenwash' is being done in our name?
Futures Forum: Climate change: the great carbon offsetting scam

And as tourists, our actual footprint has an immediate and often dramatic impact - the uncomfortable question being, for whom exactly are the world's national parks for?

... whether in the United States:
The Sun Magazine | Keep Off The Grasslands
Bison-Loving Billionaires Rile Ranchers With Land Grab in American West - Bloomberg

... or the United Kingdom:
In defence of wild land is not in defiance of people |
The Myth of Trophy Hunting as Conservation

... or in Africa:
Game conservation in Africa: Horns, claws and the bottom line | The Economist
Eviction for Conservation: A Global Overview Brockington D, Igoe J - Conservat Soc
Conservation: Indigenous People's Enemy No. 1? | Mother Jones

The Masai of Tanzania have been in the news:
40,000 Masai nomads to be kicked off ancestral land 'so the rich can hunt elephants' - Mirror Online
Tanzania denies plan to evict Masai tribes to set up hunting park for UAE royals - ArabianBusiness.com

The group Avaaz campaigned on this issue:

Tanzania’s government is tearing up the promise we helped the Maasai win. Before they meet their Prime Minister to defend their sacred land, let's hit 2 million signers -- their email from last year is below! 

Dear friends,

Within hours, Tanzania's President Kikwete could start evicting tens of thousands of the Maasai from our land so hunters can come and kill leopards and lions. Last time Avaaz raised the alarm, the President shelved the plan. Global pressure can stop him again. Click to help us urgently: 

Sign the petition
We are elders of the Maasai from Tanzania, one of Africa’s oldest tribes. The government has just announced that it plans to kick thousands of our families off our lands so that wealthy tourists can use them to shoot lions and leopards. The evictions are to begin immediately.

Last year, when word first leaked about this plan, almost one million Avaaz members rallied to our aid. Your attention and the storm it created forced the government to deny the plan, and set them back months. But the President has waited for international attention to die down, and now he’s revived his plan to take our land. We need your help again, urgently.

President Kikwete may not care about us, but he has shown he’ll respond to global media and public pressure -- to all of you! We may only have hours. Please stand with us to protect our land, our people and our world’s most majestic animals, and tell everyone before it is too late. This is our last hope:


Our people have lived off the land in Tanzania and Kenya for centuries. Our communities respect our fellow animals and protect and preserve the delicate ecosystem. But the government has for years sought to profit by giving rich princes and kings from the Middle East access to our land to kill. In 2009, when they tried to clear our land to make way for these hunting sprees, we resisted, and hundreds of us were arrested and beaten. Last year, rich princes shot at birds in trees from helicopters. This killing goes against everything in our culture.

Now the government has announced it will clear a huge swath of our land in Loliondo to make way for what it claims will be a wildlife corridor, but many suspect it’s just a ruse to give a foreign hunting corporation and the rich tourists it caters to easier access to shoot at majestic animals. The government claims this new arrangement is some sort of accommodation, but its effect on our people’s way of life will be disastrous. There are thousands of us who could have our lives uprooted, losing our homes, the land on which our animals graze, or both.

President Kikwete knows this deal would be controversial with Tanzania’s tourists -- a critical source  of national income -- and does not want a big PR disaster. If we can urgently generate even more global outrage than we did before, and get the media writing about it, we know it can make him think twice. Stand with us now to call on Kikwete to stop the sell off:


This land grab could spell the end for the Maasai in this part of Tanzania and many of our community have said they would rather die than be forced from their homes. On behalf of our people and the animals who graze in these lands, please stand with us to change the mind of our President.

With hope and determination,

The Maasai elders of Ngorongoro District


The Guardian: Tanzania accused of backtracking over sale of Masai’s ancestral land
The Guardian: Maasai fury as plan to lure Arabian Gulf tourists threatens their ancestral land
allAfrica: Land Grab Could Spell 'The End of the Maasai'
IPP Media: Maasai villagers frustrate efforts to vacate for Ortelo
The Guardian: Tanzania denies plan to evict Maasai for royal hunting ground
The Guardian: “Tourism is a curse to us”
New Internationalist Magazine: “Hunted down”
Society for Threatened People: Briefing on the eviction of the Loliondo Maasai
FEMACT: Report by 16 human rights investigators & media on violence in Loliondo

Avaaz - Highlights

The campaign worked:

Tanzania’s Masai ‘breathe sigh of relief’ after president vows never to evict them

Tweeted pledge by Jakaya Kikwete follows global outcry over plans to turn vast plains into hunting ground for Arab monarchy

David Smith, Africa correspondent

The Guardian, Tuesday 25 November 2014 17.33 GMT

Masai representatives in Tanzania say they will feel safe from eviction only when they receive written confirmation granting them permanent land rights. Photograph: Alamy

The president of Tanzania has pledged never to evict the Masai people after an international outcry against plans to turn their ancestral land into a commercial hunting ground for Arab royalty.

Last week the Guardian revealed claims by Masai activists that the government had reintroduced plans to forcibly relocate 40,000 pastoralists to make way for a luxury hunting and safari company based in the United Arab Emirates.

But, as an online campaign gathered steam, President Jakaya Kikwete tweeted: “There has never been, nor will there ever be, any plan by the government of Tanzania to evict the Masai people from their ancestral land.”

The promise was hailed by the Avaaz global activist group after a two-year fight during which 2.3 million people signed a petition against the proposal. In the past week, according to Avaaz, 18,000 people have written to Tanzanian embassies to raise their concerns.

“This is a massive breakthrough,” said Sam Barratt, Avaaz campaign director. “For the first time in 20 years, a Tanzanian president has definitively said the Masai are safe on their land. Over 2 million people around the world have stood arm in arm with the Masai to keep foreign hunters at bay.”

Masai representatives also welcomed the announcement but struck a note of caution. Ole Kulinga, an elder and traditional leader from Loliondo, the affected district, said: “Without our land, we are nothing and this commitment from the president lets us all breathe a sigh of relief. But hunters want this land more than anything and we will only feel safe when we have permanent rights to our land in writing.”

Samwell Nangire, coordinator of the local Ngonett civil society group, noted that Kikwete had tweeted that there had never been a plan to evict the Masai and insisted this was not true. “He should have said we had the plan but we dropped the plan,” Nangire told Associated Press. “The plan was there for sure. But he said there was no plan. He should put in writing the commitment. That is what everyone is waiting for.”

Nangire has said Masai community leaders rejected an offer of 1bn Tanzanian shillings (£369,350) in compensation for the 580 square miles (1,500 sq km) area bordering the Serengeti national park. He estimated that 80,000 pastoralists, whose livestock graze on the land, would have been directly or indirectly affected.

Tanzania had previously rejected claims that it had ambitions to turn the land in Loliondo into a big game hunting reserve for the Ortelo Business Corporation (OBC), a safari company set up by a UAE official close to the royal family. Lazaro Nyalandu, the natural resources and tourism minister, said the “government has no such plans and never entertained the idea of evicting the Masai”.

But Avaaz claims the government “brutally evicted” some Masai communities to make way for a hunting concession run by the OBC in 2009. Officials also promised to shelve the plan last year, the group claims, only to reactivate it recently.

The land in question is an immense plain dotted with acacia trees and watering holes. More than 2 million animals migrate north from Serengeti into Kenya’s adjacent Masai Mara reserve every year.

Kikwete will step down as president next year after two terms in office.

Tanzania’s Masai ‘breathe sigh of relief’ after president vows never to evict them | World news | The Guardian

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