tribe's 'great victory' over commercial hunters
October 22, 2007
One of Africa's
last hunter-gatherer tribes has won a “great victory”
after an Arab royal family dropped plans to use the people's ancestral
land for commercial hunting.
A company acting
on behalf of Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed of the United Arab Emirates
has pulled out of a deal made two years ago with the Tanzania government
to hunt wildlife in 2,267 square kms of remote bush in the Yaeda
Chini region of Tanzania, east Africa.
feared if a hunting concession was granted to the company then the
400-estimated Hadzabe hunter-gatherers of Yaeda Chini would have
been criminalised as poachers and driven off land their ancestors
have lived on for 10,000 years.
who live in small groups and are believed to number less than 1,000
in total in Tanzania, are the closest cultural relatives to the
San bushmen of the Kalahari in Botswana.
UAE Safaris Ltd, complained it had been "misrepresented"
by unspecified Hadzabe interest groups.
decision is five months after the controversial arrest of two Hadzabe
men after they spoke out against the deal. The arrests were condemned
as political "intimidation” by supporters.
of the deal is a great victory because it sends a clear message
that hunter-gatherer people will not take threats to their ancestral
land lying down,” said Fiona Watson of Survival International,
a charity working for the rights of tribal people around the world.
a Hadzabe, fears allowing commercial hunting in Yaeda Chini, Tanzania,
would lead to his people being driven from their ancestral land.
Photo: Adam James
At the height
of the controversy in May, two Hadzabe, Richard Baalow and Naftali
Kitandu were arrested on charges of breaching the peace after, they
said, they voiced strong opposition to the deal during a meeting
in Mongo Wa Mono village, Yaeda Chini. The meeting was attended
by an official from the Tanzania government’s commission for
human rights and good governance.
Both Mr Baalow
and Mr Naftali, were held in a jail in Mbulu town for four days.
Legal proceedings are still ongoing. Mr Baalow and Mr Naftali deny
nothing, nothing at all. It was just because we refused [to agree
to the UAE Safaris plan],” said Mr Baalow.
said the arrests exemplified the scare tactics used by the Tanzanian
government, backed by local officials, to try and silence dissenting
human rights organisations see this [the arrests] as a form of intimidation
to ensure compliance with the decision to contract with the UAE”
read a report compiled by the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Co-ordinating
Safaris confirmed last week it has “surrendered the rights”
to hunt in Yaeda Chini. It denied that, had it started hunting,
the Hadzabe would have been prevented from using the land.
A UAE Safaris
statement read: “To suggest or imply that the company operations
included restricting or preventing Hadzabe tribesmen from continuing
their traditional hunting practices is incorrect - traditional hunting
practices are subject only to Tanzanian law.”
a commercially motivated misrepresentation of the company's intentions
and activities has been continuously perpetuated by certain interest
groups. This has regretfully caused us to review the long term sustainability
of our planned program in the entire region resulting in our reluctant
A Hadzabe boy
in the Yaeda Chini valley, Tanzania, east Africa. The Hadzabe hunter-gatherer
tribe has lived in the region for 10,000 years. Photo:
granted its concession, UAE Safaris was due to assist in the economic
development of the Yaeda Chini valley, which borders Lake Eyasi.
It was to build
a secondary school, health clinic and roads to link the Hadzabe
with Mbulu, the nearest town. The hunting firm was also to pay 50%
of the running costs of the school for as long as it was granted
a hunting concession in Yaeda Chini.
which had only got as far as building a base camp in Yaeda Chini,
also promised a number of conservation initiatives, including providing
4x4 vehicles for anti-poaching patrols and water boreholes to attract
more wildlife to Yaeda Chini, an animal migratory route where wildlife
is underthreat from poaching.
that UAE Safaris had pulled out, Damian Issay, chairman of Mbulu
District Council, which was to have benefited from the projects,
said: "The safari company is to do work that we, as a council,
can not afford. We lose those benefits if the company pulls out."
say neither the government nor UAE Safaris had given any guarantee
that a sustainable solution could be brokered to ensure the Hadzabe
could continue to hunt without being arrested for poaching. In 2005,
after Hadzabe had been arrested on poaching charges elsewhere in
Tanzania, the effected private hunting company did broker such an
Porokwa, co-ordinator of the Pingo Forum, which represents indigenous
tribes in Tanzania, said Hadzabe have neither legal ownership to
their land nor do they have any legal right to self-subsistence
as if the Hadzabe do not exist,” said Mr Porokwa. "Unless
you have a hunting concession, hunting is illegal. Law prohibits
hunting. Therefore, the livelihoods of the Hadzabe is not recognised
according to the law.”
Emails and telephone
calls were made to Philip Marmo, Tanzania’s good governance
minister and the Mbulu MP, asking how much UAE Safaris was due to
pay the government for its hunting concession. No reply was received.
hunting firms operating in Tanzania pay £25,000 per year,
plus “trophy fees” of, for example, £6,000 per
lion and £7,500 per elephant.
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