Update, 8:45pm GMT 25 November 2014: The Tanzanian President has tweeted that he will not pursue to deal with the hunting reserve -- but we cannot back off until the Maasai are guaranteed permanent rights to their land, in writing. We've updated the petition text to reflect this additional, critical, ask.
The Tanzanian government plans to kick 40,000 Maasai people off their ancestral land to make way for a luxury big game hunting reserve. A section of the famous Serengeti plains, which teems with lions, leopards, elephants, wildebeest, zebra and buffalo, is to be sold to a Dubai-based company, the Ortelo Business Corporation, for a commercial hunting ground.
The Tanzanian government has been forced to back down once before -- last year, after massive local and international opposition to the plan, Tanzania's president promised the Maasai they could stay on their lands. Now the government has made a sudden u-turn, and told them the deal is back on and they must leave their ancestral territory by the end of this year.
Tell Tanzania's president to keep his promise and cancel the corporate land-grab once and for all.
The Maasai have been fighting the commercialisation of their traditional lands for decades, battling greedy investors eyeing the area's extraordinary wildlife and trying to get hunting and tourism permits. The nomadic herders are furious at the news that this deal has come back to life.
“This is the worst kind of betrayal ever,” said Ole Kulinga, a Maasai elder and traditional leader. “This government’s promises are clearly worth nothing. They said our lands were safe -- the lands where the Maasai have lived and died for generations -- but now they are going to take them from us, and sell them to rich royals from overseas who want to come and slaughter animals. We will never accept this deal. Our land is not for sale.”
There is a lot of money riding on the Dubai deal. Local activists opposing the hunting reserve over the last two years have been threatened, and even killed. So international attention and pressure has a crucial part to play in exposing the Tanzanian government's betrayal and forcing it to keep its promises. Please stand with the Maasai people who could lose everything, and help them keep their homelands.
Sign the petition to Tanzania's president telling him to abandon the deal now.
Tanzania accused of backtracking over sale of Maasai’s ancestral land, The Guardian, November 16, 2014.
Tanzania ditches plan to evict Masai for Serengeti 'wildlife corridor', The Guardian, October 7, 2013.
Masai face losing their homeland to hunters, The Times, November 19, 2014.