On 13 August 2017, rangers started to evict people and livestock from 1,500 square kilometres of land in Loliondo, Northern Tanzania. Houses and bomas (homesteads) have been burned. The evictions are taking place during an extreme drought.
A hunting company from the United Arab Emirates, Otterlo Business Corporation, has exclusive hunting rights in an area of 400,000 hectares to the east of the Serengeti National Park. For many years, OBC has been lobbying the Tanzanian government to turn the 1,500 square kilometre area, into a “protected area”. This is the area in which OBC organises its hunts.
In November 2016, OBC put out a report titled “Loliondo GCA Is Diminishing”. The report states that,
As a result of environmental destruction and human intrusion some animal species like cats, lions and buffalos disappeared and/or very difficult to find. This has adversely impacted on the hunting activities, especially the quality of trophies and their availability.
But the land is the ancestral land of the Maasai. They have been resisting eviction from Loliondo since OBC was granted hunting rights in 1992.
In 2009, Maasai homes were burned and livestock lost during forced evictions. The then-UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya, produced a report about the evictions. Anaya’s report describes serious human rights abuses:
[M]ore than two hundred bomas were completely burnt, as were the possessions and food supplies found within the bomas and in the nearby crop fields. The evictions impacted more than 20,000 pastoralists, many of whom have taken refuge in temporary bomas around Oljorooibort near the border between Arash and Maaloni villages. The evicted villagers were left homeless and without food, clothing, land, water, medical and other basic social needs. Over 50,000 head of cattle belonging to the villagers, and comprising their primary economic activity, were left without grazing land or water due to the burning of grazing land and exclusion from traditional grazing areas.
Violence was used against village inhabitants. Specifically, one woman was repeatedly raped by a police officer during the eviction process and four others who were pregnant suffered miscarriages, reportedly as a result of the violence which took place during the eviction. Men were chained, beaten, and humiliated in front of their families and fellow village residents. Some individuals, including 16 youth, were detained. In the chaos that ensued, many family members, including children, were separated from one another. At least three children remain missing. The Government has denied that any violence or rape resulted from the evictions and has accused both village residents and journalists of inventing facts related to the evictions.
In a post on her website “View from the Termite Mound” about the current evictions, Susanna Nordlund writes that,
While writing I was told that five (some say nine) bomas had already been burned in the Oloosek area and that next they would be burned in Ng’ambo. The rangers are identified as being from the Serengeti National Park Authority, Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, and the police from Loliondo are also involved. Some say there were some unidentified rangers as well. Most of the victims had gone to the Sunday market in Ololosokwan. The suffering by people already hit by the extreme drought isn’t possible to imagine.
Rangers have reportedly told people in Oleng’usa, near OBC’s camp, to move out.
Last week, rangers shot Pormoson Ololoso in the legs and arm, after he was found grazing his cows in the Serengeti National Park. He and two other men were caught grazing their cattle and park rangers extracted money from them.
The next morning, as they were leaving the park, the rangers wanted more money. The herders refused to pay. The shooting took place in the Oloosek area, which is well outside the National Park. Pormoson was hit in both thighs and his left arm. He was taken to hospital.
Nordlund writes that by 14 August 2017, about 70 bomas have been extrajudicially burned to the ground. “I never thought this could happen again, like this, after 2009,” Nordlund writes. “Who can stop it? I don’t have words for the terror and those who have the words would not dare to be quoted.”