Emirati Royalty Threaten 48,000 Maasai in Lucrative Hunting Deal

maasai women africaA new campaign attempts to stop a hunting deal in Tanzania forcing 48,000 members of Africa’s Maasai tribe off their land so Middle Eastern royalty can hunt lions and leopards in the Serengeti

The Middle East’s love affair with wild animals has hit the headlines again. No, there haven’t been sightings of cheetahs on the streets of Dubai or dead wolves and owls on parade, rather Middle Eastern royals are being accused of aiding a massive sell-off of the Serengeti. And in a new twist to the land-grab meme, this land sell-off is not to secure access to precious food supplies but, rather, to indulge in the hunting whims of the Middle East’s elite.

The campaigning group Avaaz has launched a online petition to ask Tanzania’s President Kikwete to reject the hunting corporation’s big deal and stop the sell-off of the Serengeti.

“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” explains Avaaz via email. “But when a press controversy followed, Tanzanian President Kikwete reversed course and returned the Maasai to their land. This time, there hasn’t been a big press controversy yet, but we can change that and force Kikwete to stop the deal if we join our voices now.”

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.”

The Maasai are semi-nomadic herders who have lived in Tanzania and Kenya for centuries, playing a critical role in preserving the delicate ecosystem and wildlife of the Serengeti. As such, 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.

For more on wild animals in the Middle East see:

Dubai Porsche Driver Walks Pet Cheetah on a Leash

Africa’s Most Dangerous Animal to Greet Eid Visitors at Gulf Zoo

Gulf Country completely Bans Ownership of Wild Animals

Photo of unidentified Maasai women via Pal Teravagimov / Shutterstock.com


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8 thoughts on “Emirati Royalty Threaten 48,000 Maasai in Lucrative Hunting Deal”

  1. tbbeer says:

    This is a sad article The royal need to step away

  2. Rooibos says:

    Karen, animals are being lined up and sold for canned hunts for anyone who can PAY, and it’s the same story here: someone is waiving money so those without it are pushed aside, because they are in the way (the tribe) while others die (wildlife). Who do you think gets that money? Corrupt politicians. I astonished you actually think this *isn’t* happening!

    And what part of the world is “enlightened,” that you speak of? It’s still permitted in ALL nations! Show me a nation where “hunting” has been banned and you’ll see the most enlightened nation on the planet. Killing other species – exterminating them because they are what they are – is “entertainment” for those who see lives as no importance. Take the weapons away from those fat towel heads and let them walk through that veldt and we’ll see *real* nature in action.

    1. I come from Canada where the hunt is tightly regulated. Men and women get tags to hunt deer, bear and moose – only according to populations of the animals. My dad hunts deer in the fall and he keeps a hunt camp in the north so I know the process. In some years there are few tags handed out if the populations are low, and in other years there are more. The hunters I know ALL eat their kill throughout the year, as a way to help them subside in depressed communities. I doubt these Emiratis hunting lions are doing it for food or population control of lions. It’s about male ego, and domination.

      In some religions, like Judaism (certainly Hinduism), hunting animals is strictly forbidden. I think *this* is enlightenment.

      This story starts the conversation, and Rooibos, can you tell us more about the unregulated hunting going on? Who’s coming in to hunt? We want to know.

  3. Maurice says:

    killing lions? I can’t imagine this is still going on. But sadly it is, and also other furred cats too, especially tigers. But isn’t killing a lion with a spear still an initiation rite into Masai manhood, especially for future tribal chiefs? I remember seeing a movie on this years ago.

  4. The hunting aspect is almost impossible to believe since so much of the enlightened world seems to understand that humans no longer need to prove they have big penises by killing cheetahs and big furry animals with teeth.

  5. JTR – where did you hear Saudis? This is a project headed by royalty from the UAE. United Arab Emirates. Different kingdom.

  6. JTR says:

    It looks like the Saudis are trying to be neo-imperialists assuming their money will buy anything.

  7. This is unacceptable on so many levels. I had the good fortune to spend many months with the Masaai in Kenya and they are an amazing people. Already so marginalized, they don’t deserve this. And don’t even get me started on the hunting…

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