Middle Eastern kings and princes may force up to 48,000 people in Tanzania from their land to make way for corporate-sponsored big game hunting says Avaaz
Representatives from the Maasai community have urgently appealed to Avaaz to raise the global alarm call and save their land.
Avaaz claims that Middle Eastern kings and princes are about to force up to 48,000 people in Tanzania from their land to make way for corporate-sponsored big game hunting. But Tanzanian President Kikwete has shown before that he will stop deals like this when they generate negative press coverage says Avaaz.
At any moment, a big-game hunting corporation could sign a deal which would force up to 48,000 members of Africa's famous Maasai tribe from their land to make way for wealthy Middle Eastern kings and princes to hunt lions and leopards. Experts say the Tanzanian President's approval of the deal may be imminent, but if we act now, we can stop this sell-off of the Serengeti. Says Avaaz
The last time this same corporation pushed the Maasai off their land to make way for rich hunters, people were beaten by the police, their homes were burnt to a cinder and their livestock died of starvation. But when a press controversy followed, Tanzanian President Kikwete reversed course and returned the Maasai to their land.
The Maasai are semi-nomadic herders who have lived in Tanzania and Kenya for centuries, playing a critical role in preserving the delicate ecosystem. But, says Avaaz, to royal families from the United Arab Emirates, they're an obstacle to luxurious animal shooting sprees.
A deal to evict the Maasai to make way for rich foreign hunters is as bad for wildlife as it is for the communities it would destroy. While President Kikwete is talking to favoured local elites to sell them on the deal as good for development, the vast majority of people just want to keep the land that they know the President can take by decree.
President Kikwete understands that this deal would be controversial with Tanzania's tourists - a critical source of national income - and may therefore be trying to keep it from the public eye. In 2009, a similar royal landgrab in the area executed by the same corporation that is swooping in this time generated global media coverage that helped to roll it back.
Oxfam, an international charity, also reported on the eviction which took place in July 2009 in Tanzania leaving nearly 2,000 people homeless. They aded that “two of the most infamous land conflicts are with Emirates hunting company Ortello Business Corporation and American-owned Thomson Safaris Ltd.”
As of August 13, more than 400,000 people had signed the petition in just 24 hours and Avaaz reported that President Kikwete’s inner circle was starting to react: “ a few hours ago, the President’s close confidante, Mr. January Makamba MP, tweeted saying he would send our voices to the President himself. Keep up the pressure by signing now and forwarding to others.”
Avaaz.org is a global civic organization that promotes activism on issues such as climate change, human rights, animal rights, corruption, poverty, and conflict. Its stated mission is to "close the gap between the world we have and the world most people everywhere want." The organization operates in 15 languages, and states that it has over fifteen million members in 194 countries.