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Game – On

Tanzania attracted approximately 1.5m tourists during 2019. Covid restrictions saw a significant visitor reduction during 2020 (620,867) but during 2021, tourism increased to 922,692 visitors. 75,000 British nationals alone visit Tanzania each year. She is home to some of the world’s most beautiful wildlife and national parks including the Serengeti. Of course, she is home to Africa’s highest mountain – the Kilimanjaro and the world’s largest volcanic crater (Ngorongoro crater) located easterly off the Serengeti. On Tanzania’s endangered species list are the black rhino, the African wild dog, chimpanzee’s, the forest antelope (Lesser Kudu), white-bellied pangolin, and the Thompson’s gazelle.

Paradoxically, in 2018, the Tanzanian government lifted the ban on wildlife hunting imposed during 2015. Tanzanian citizens and holders of foreign residence permits, are allowed to hunt in specified game reserves. Specifically for game meat and trophies, however ‘rules’ apply – no chasing or shooting animals from a vehicle, hunting must only be conducted in daylight, and young and female animals must not be hunted.

Game hunting is big business in Tanzania and surrounding regions. In fact, game hunting is big business worldwide. Package trips are available to clients from £10,000 upwards, dependant on which animal is to be hunted. Leopard hunting between the July – November season for fourteen day’s costs £42,499. Hunting Elephants will set the hunter back up to £77,000. Today, permit holders, the affluent and the ‘elite’ have the option to ‘book their hunt’ online, anywhere in the world, the United Kingdom is no exception.

The human tragedy

The tragedy of game hunting for sport extends beyond the pain, suffering and cruelty to the region’s beautiful indigenous wildlife. The Maasai people have been persecuted for decades by the Tanzanian government and indirectly by private stakeholders in attempts to drive them out of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro regions as they expand their hunting domains.

More recently, to make way for the sale of yet more land for a planned wildlife reserve – allegedly to become another private hunting ground. The Maasai people have lived in the region since the 17th and 18th century, a peaceful herding community of farmers. The Tanzanian government does not recognise the rights of indigenous peoples. In recent weeks, conflict erupted between the police and the Maasai people, resulting in over 30 injured Maasai, and allegedly, the death of a police officer. Several Maasai have been detained under alleged false allegations of murder and illegal immigration and several hundred more have fled to Kenya in fear of their lives. Genocide Watch reports – more than 165,000 Maasai could be affected by the relocation plan set out by the government in two regions.

It is not the first time the Maasai have been displaced. In 1911, the British government displaced thousands of Maasai to allow for settler ranches – reducing their Kenyan lands by up to 60%. The British violated a previous treaty signed in 1901 – safeguarding the Maasai people from losing their lands. The Tanzanian government play down the civil conflict between the Maasai and the government – despite corroborating evidence of victimisation and forced eviction.

The Hunter & The Hunted