Tanzania denies plans to evict 40,000 Maasais
21 November 2014, 09:09
Dodoma - Tanzania on Thursday dismissed as false claims by activists that it is planning to evict thousands of members of the Maasai community from their traditional lands to create a hunting park.
Global activist group Avaaz alleged earlier this week that Tanzania had ambitions to turn 1,500 square kilometres (580 square miles) of land in the Loliondo district into a hunting reserve for a company catering to the royal family of the United Arab Emirates.
But Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Lazaro Nyalandu called the report false and said he would travel next month to the region to meet with Maasai leaders to reassure them.
"The government has no such plans and never entertained the idea of evicting the Maasai," Nyalandu told reporters in Tanzania's administrative capital Dodoma.
Also read: Tanzania threatens to evict 40 000 for hunting park
Avaaz, which has collected an online petition of 1.7 million names, claimed Maasai community leaders had been told they would be offered one billion Tanzania shillings ($578,000) for their lands, less than $15 each for 40,000 of them to leave.
The land borders the Serengeti national park, where animals cross into neighbouring Kenya's Maasai Mara park following seasonal grazing.
The government scrapped plans for a hunting park in Loliondo last year.