A travel forum thread about Thomson Safaris´ land grab made it – due to the involvement of Thomson’s friends and being contacted be company reps - difficult to forget. In 2010, I visited Loliondo and asked the WEO of Soitsambu if what Thomson write online is true. The WEO phoned the DC who promised to answer my questions the following day, but instead I was picked up the police and taken to the Ngorongoro Security Committee that decided that I had been doing “research” without a permit and confiscated my passport. I had to go to the Immigration office in Arusha where I was declared a prohibited immigrant. Since my information was no longer welcome in travel forums I started this blog. In 2011 and 2013 I returned to Loliondo without problems, but in 2015 I was arrested, locked up for two nights at Loliondo police station one night at Arusha police station – without being allowed to contact anyone – and then I was again declared a prohibited immigrant and deported to Kenya where I discovered that my computer had been seriously tampered with.
Please contact me with any information about the Loliondo land issues. Anyone is also more that welcome with questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s been some
time since I wrote a summary about OBC and the 1,500 km2, a lot has happened,
and there has been much misinformation, mostly from government and “investors”,
but unfortunately also from well-meaning quarters.
OBC have been hunting in Loliondo since 1993.
There were extrajudicial evictions in 2009 from the
sought-after 1,500 km2 next to Serengeti National Park. People eventually moved
In 2011 a draft district land use plan – funded by OBC
– proposed turning the 1,500 km2 into a protected area. This was strongly
rejected by the district council.
In 2013 Minister Kagasheki made statements threatening
to take the 1,500 km2. The threat was revoked by the PM, who said the land belonged
to the Maasai that should continue their lives as before. This promise has not
been put in writing.
After 2013 there haven’t been any open official statements from the Tanzanian government announcing
any interest in grabbing land in Loliondo.
There have however been alleged threats in closed
meetings, and a media campaign against the Maasai of Loliondo. A written
declaration from the government is needed, and so is continued vigilance.
Maasai fight eviction from Tanzanian community land by US-based ecotourism
Pastoralist land in Tanzania
is under threat because of commercial agriculture and conservation. In some
places 'philanthropic' ecotourism companies also add to the problem. This article focuses on a case in Loliondo.
was contacted by the worst anti-Loliondo journalist.
was a very bad article in the Raia Tanzania
is busy with the elections.
isn’t many news about the “investors”.
dry season has brought serious problems with rangers, especially in areas of
have not been able to get many updates, reportedly because everyone is busy
with the coming elections and the "investors" are keeping a low
profile. When I was about to publish a blog post about nothing I was informed
about abuse committed by NCAA rangers in Ndutu.
I was locked up two nights at
Loliondo police station and one night at Arusha police station.
Not allowed to contact anyone.
My computer was destroyed.
Instead of a court case I was
deported to Kenya.
Then the usual journalist wrote an
article full of lies about me.
Last week my latest trip to
Loliondo – a part of the world that’s always on my mind - was cut short in a
quite abrupt way when someone reported me to authorities. I wanted to meet some
of the people who are not online, but who have information about the land
threats caused by “investors”.
post was to be part of next blog update, but since that post is getting too
long and too delayed due to too much happening and problems getting exact
information, the article gets its own blog post. I hope to soon write about
developments in Kirtalo and add that to the delayed update that also has some
other important news.
An alarm against injustice has been silenced. Armed with multiple
lawyers, multiple law firms Thomson Safaris set out to stop the truth from
being told, and the Stop Thomson Safaris website is no more.
To keep their anonymity – for explicable reasons being
based in Tanzania - the creators of the website Stop Thomson Safaris have been
forced to make a settlement with the land grabbing tour operator that sued them
for “defamation and tortious interference
with prospective economic advantage” and used a subpoena to try to make the
web host Weebly disclose their identity.
A large number of bomas in areas of Arash and Loosoito/Maaloni have been
burned by TANAPA and thousands of people left without food or shelter.
Exact details have been very difficult to come by.
The “investor-friendly”* group is worse than ever.
I should have published a blog post a week ago, but have had serious
problems getting exact information. Now it has to be posted. (Updated below in purple. It's been found that the bomas were inside the established park boundary, and some also inside another, unidentified, boundary. It has to be investigated if the unidentified boundary could have become the legal boundary.)
This is a patently false and untrue statement. The
1,500 square kilometres dry season grazing land in question, bordering Serengeti
National Park, has already been under threat several times. This land is also
the core hunting area of Otterlo Business Corporation Ltd that for two decades
has held the hunting block (permit to hunt) that covers more than the whole
area of Loliondo Division. The Dubai-owned OBC organizes hunting trips for the
highest levels of United Arab Emirates society.
-Thomson Safaris are back to harassing people and cattle that enter onto
the land that they have grabbed.
-Good and bad news from Kakesio in
-The Minister for Natural Resources
and Tourism has met several times with the council chairman and also held a
meeting with all councillors from affected wards. The information/threat is
that the government is set on taking the land.
I’ve come across an “International Handbook onTourism and Peace” that’s published by the Centre for Peace Research and Peace
Education of the Klagenfurt University in Austria in cooperation with the United
Nations World Tourism Organization. There’s a chapter in this handbook that deals with the conflict between the people of Loliondo and the government working in
the interest of the “investor” OBC, but unfortunately this chapter gets some
basic facts totally wrong presenting last year’s land grabbing attempt by the
Ministry for Natural Resources and Tourism led by the then Minister Khamis
Kagasheki as “entirely based on wisdom”! I sent an email - copied and pasted
below – to the writer of the chapter and to the two editors of the handbook.
This handbook was launched already in January this year with the support of the
Ministry of Economy, Family and Youth and the Ministry of European and
International Affairs of Austria. I’d kindly ask everyone reading this blog post
to if possible share it with anyone who has read the disinformation of the
handbook. I have so far only read the chapter about Loliondo and hope that the
rest is not in the same vein. (Though I wouldn’t know since I only have detailed
information about Loliondo…)
Email sent on Thursday 28th August
2014 22:47 “Misleading information in Handbook on Tourism and Peace”.
Cordula and Werner (writer and editors),
In memory of Moringe ole Parkipuny,
sadly missed for one year now.
-There have been some meetings.
-In a meeting with the District Commissioner an
agreement was made that cows and herders will no longer be harassed on the occupied
land, but will graze freely.
-What happened when Olunjai Timan was shot
because of Thomson Safaris’ occupation of Maasai land.
-And a reminder of what the “philanthropic”
land grabber has been doing during these years.
Olunjai Timan (I’ve earlier been spelling his
name “Olonjai”) left hospital returning home to Mondorosi on 16th
July, one week after being shot by a policeman working for Thomson Safaris. His
wound still needs regular cleaning and dressing.
Kagaheki, Minister for Natural Resources and
Tourism, resigned for Christmas and this was celebrated in Loliondo.
OBC isn’t doing anything at all (?)
In NCA Kakesio´s problem with the Friedkin
group of companies continues and the NCAA isn’t doing much about it.
Thomson Safaris continue occupying Maasai land and
presenting it as a model for community-based tourism, and again physically
assault people who resist the occupation by grazing.
NGOs like Frankfurt
Zoological Society and the Honeyguide Foundation excel in negative influence.
season was on the way towards a catastrophe, but in early December it started
raining seriously and the grass sprouted.
I’ve got some information about the latest land
grabbing developments in Loliondo – and Kakesio (in NCA) – but as usual this
blog post is delayed since it unfortunately takes some effort to get exact
information, and some issues still have to wait to be written about.
Another example of the spirit of the safari
company that occupies 12,617 acres of Maasai grazing land in Loliondo,
violently harass the legitimate landowners and finds it appropriate to aggressively
present this as a model of community-based conservation.
I’m having some annoying problems getting exact
information about issues that I need to include in next blog post. Instead I’ll
first write about another issue that I’ve wanted to mention for a long time and
it’ll get its own post.
After some months of silence central government
reappeared and disappeared in Loliondo. Then the Prime Minister appeared and
declared that the 1.500km2 belong to the Maasai and their coming generations
thereby reversing the threats and lies by the Minister of Natural Resources and
Long term FZS head comes out in support of the
Government and OBC.
The court case against Thomson Safaris is
ongoing, there’s still unity, but sinister old manager is back.
This dry season turned bad and grazing in
Serengeti NP was needed. Cows and people were arrested with strange charge
Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Khamis Kagasheki, had spent the
first part of 2013 issuing threatening and bizarre statements about the
Government’s intention of taking 1,500km2 of important grazing land for a
“wildlife corridor” and several protest delegations from Loliondo had visited
Dar es Salaam and Dodoma, the Prime Minister wrote a letter to the Arusha
Regional Commissioner on 30th May and everything went quiet. Kagasheki
had gone as far as calling the Maasai “landless” invaders of their own land,
and saying that they were being “given” land since the Government would not
take the whole of Loliondo Game Controlled Area (that in its totality is
village land). The Prime Minister, in contrast, did recognise that the land
does belong to the villages, but otherwise his letter wasn’t very promising
since the PM did not show an understanding of the importance of this land for
pastoralism. Nothing was ever heard from the Regional Commissioner about the
Prime Minister’s letter.
The Government of Tanzania
has repeatedly declared interest in taking 1,500km2 of important dry season
grazing land bordering SerengetiNational Park from the Maasai of Loliondo and Sale divisions of Ngorongoro
provisions of the Village Land Act No 5 of 1999 – and under customary land
tenure since as long as can be remembered - this land belongs to the villagers
of Ololosokwan, Soitsambu, Oloipiri, Oloirien, Maaloni, Arash, Malambo and
Piyaya – and the land is also of vital seasonal importance for pastoralists
beyond the borders of these villages. The loss of this land would signify the
destruction of tens of thousands of lives and livelihoods.
In July 2013 I managed to return to Loliondo
and meet some people affected by Thomson Safaris’occupation of 12,617 acres of
This report is maybe too personal, but not of
the kind written in another time. It focuses on the land threats (and me
seeking information about them) and not my inadequacies as a tourist, weird and
wonderful people and animals I've met, or efforts to wash my hair without
running water. The report may contain some whining and ranting.
In memory of Moringe
Parkipuny who too early passed away in Karatu on 22nd July 2013. You
are sadly missed and your spirit will never be allowed to die.
A long awaited letter from the Prime Minister regarding
1,500sq km under threat contradicts the lies repeated by the Minister for
Natural Resources and Tourism, but does otherwise not have much substance.
Newfound unity among the villages around the
land occupied by Thomson Safaris.
OBC and the government’s 1,500sq km land grab
latest update I mentioned a delegation of traditional leaders that had
travelled to Dar es Salaam demanding to see the president about the announced
threat to their lives and livelihoods - 1,500sq km of important dry season grazing
land that also “happen” to be the core
hunting area of Otterlo Business Corporation taken away by the government for
“conservation”. The demands were not met and the delegation headed on to Dodoma to see Prime
Minister Mizengo Pinda. In Dodoma
the traditional leaders were joined by other delegations from Loliondo in what
seemed like a rather fruitless and costly wait.
Thomson Safaris step up their propaganda while
continuing the occupation of Maasai grazing land at their self-styled 'Enashiva
Nature Reserve' – and their land grab PR person since 2007 appears as a
graduate student in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy.
The Government through Tanzania National Parks
Authorities and later the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism renews and
intensifies the threat of grabbing a 1,500sq km “wildlife corridor”. And on 26th
March 2013 the Government declares total war on the people of Loliondo.
frustration I’ve not been able to return to Loliondo for over a year and a
half, but I’ve managed to obtain some information from a selection of very busy people. The information about
some issues is still incomplete, but I can’t wait any longer to publish this
ridiculously delayed update.
publish some reports I got from NCA in a separate blog post.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
The most recent efforts by the Tanzanian
government to grab a “corridor” of land from the people of Loliondo
of a corridor of extension of Serengeti
National Park onto
village land in Loliondo Division of Ngorongoro District has again reared its
ugly head. On 20th November 2012 villagers
from Ololosokwan went to Klein’s Gate and it was established that Tanzania
National Parks (TANAPA) were planning to put border beacons – that had been
brought and were being stored - far inside land belonging to the village. They
already tried this in 2008 and then the beacons were destroyed by angry
villagers, some of whom were arrested for a few hours until fellow villagers
forced their release. Through the years TANAPA have tried many bad tricks and
then there have been times of uneventful coexistence. Similar attempts at
expanding borders are going on around most protected areas in Tanzania.
December Just Conservation – a network that’s an open space for all who care
about the conservation of our world and who want to see it achieved with
justice, compassion, dignity and honesty – published an article I had written
as a short overview of land grabs in Loliondo.
soon publish a post about the current crisis caused by the government moving
forward with the plans of grabbing a corridor of Loliondo land next to Serengeti National Park, and before the end of the
year I have to post an update about Thomson Safaris and some other issues.
Ndekerei - one of the three young boys who
in August were beaten at Thomson’s camp and arrested for “trespassing” and
whose court case was dismissed since the prosecution did not show up and there
was no supporting evidence - was yesterday again arrested by Thomson’s guard for
“trespassing” and grazing cattle on the grabbed land. Today he remains at
Loliondo police station without legal representation.
Safaris are also moving on with the absurd court case against five young
herders that were arrested and humiliated in July. The main hearing is on the
14th December. It’s the abused people that should sue Thomson! Though I
suppose there aren’t resources for this. At least the land case is continuing.
I have got some
information from Loliondo that I’ve tried to check with different sources and would
like to share here on my blog.
Let’s start with the rare good news:
the appeal was successful! On 31 May 2011 the case against Tanzania
Conservation Ltd (Thomson Safaris) and Tanzania Breweries Ltd was dismissed on
a preliminary objection. The objection was that it’s exactly the same case as
in the late 80s, which is not correct. An appeal was sought and in May 2012 it
was granted. Now there will be a full trial in the high court. The court case
moves slowly delaying the deliverance of justice. I’m worried, but it seems people
closer to the happenings seem confident that justice will prevail and the land
will be returned to the community.
In early 2010 I visited Loliondo in Tanzania where I as a tourist wanted to ask some questions about the case of Boston-based Thomson Safaris establishing their private “Enashiva Nature Refuge” on Maasai grazing land and presenting it as a shining example of “community empowerment”. This led to an amazing overreaction that a clearly illustrated how Tanzanian authorities favour the interests of “investors” over those of the customary landowners when the Ngorongoro District Commissioner confiscated my passport and sent me to Arusha where I was declared a “prohibited immigrant” and thrown out of the country.
I’ve written about this HERE.
Towards the end of September 2011 my return was long overdue and I got a ticket for Nairobi. I had high expectations of, without getting into too much danger, talking with a wide selection of people who could share information about Thomson Safaris and also Otterlo Business Corporation, but these expectations were only partially fulfilled.
Maasai pastoralists in Loliondo are under the threat of having a massive 1,500-km2 piece of dry season grazing land taken away from them by the Tanzanian government. This will have a decidedly negative impact on their livelihoods and has to be stopped.
I’ve been trying to find out the background, and this is a summary of what I’ve found so far. I may have to make some amendments if I receive information that I’ve been waiting for a bit too long now.
Unfortunately I have not yet been able to return to Loliondo, but I think it’s time, one year after my visit, to write an update using the information that has reached me here in Sweden. For a – necessary - background of the issue at hand here’s my first blog post:
I was waiting to write something about recent developments in Loliondo until having the whole picture clear and some really good article to link to, but now it has occurred to me that a blog is a web log with ongoing commentary.
I’ve been told that on 6 April Maasai women had started gathering in the villages to go to Loliondo town and hand in their CCM (government party) cards. They were protesting against the July 2009 evictions to give way to the UAE hunting company Otterlo Business Corporation. The evictions included the burning of houses and other human (and animal) rights abuses. Several children were lost in the chaos and one of them has not been found. I have a summary of these events in my first blog entry. A parliamentary report into the evictions was supposed to be presented in Parliament in February, but was blocked by the CCM caucus. There’s considerable risk that the report is a whitewash, but a debate in parliament is needed.