AFRICANGLOBE – Tanzania’s president has vowed never to evict the Masai people from their traditional lands, which activists claimed were threatened by plans for a hunting reserve for wealthy Arabs. “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,” President Jakaya Kikwete said in a message on Twitter on Sunday.
Tanzania last week dismissed as false the claims by global activist group Avaaz it had ambitions to turn 1 500km² of land in the Loliondo district into a hunting reserve for a company catering to the royal family of the United Arab Emirates.
Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Lazaro Nyalandu said the “government has no such plans and never entertained the idea of evicting the Masai.”
Avaaz, which launched an online petition against the alleged plans that collected 1,7 million signatures, claimed Masai community leaders had been told they would be offered about €466 200 for their lands, about €12 each for 40 000 of them to leave.
Avaaz welcomed the promise by Tanzania. “This is a massive breakthrough,” Avaaz campaign director Sam Barratt said.
“For the first time in 20 years, a Tanzanian president has definitively said the Masai are safe on their land. Over two million people around the world have stood arm in arm with the Masai to keep foreign hunters at bay.”
The land borders the Serengeti National Park, where animals cross into neighbouring Kenya’s Masai Mara Park following seasonal grazing.
The government scrapped plans for a hunting park in Loliondo last year.