Safari concession threatens
28 June 2007
Hundreds of Hadza hunter-gatherers face eviction from their ancestral lands if
a foreign safari company is given a hunting concession on their land.
Tanzania UAE Safari Ltd, which is reportedly backed by members of the United
Arab Emirates royal families, is negotiating with the government of Tanzania
for a concession of 3,975 sq kms in the Yaida Valley, where Hadzabe (‘Hadza
people’) have lived for millenia.
If the hunting concession is approved, the Hadzabe will lose access to crucial
food sources such as game and wild tubers. They are likely to become destitute,
with devastating consequences for their life expectancy and general wellbeing.
Last month two Hadzabe activists were arrested when they attended a meeting
with local officials to voice concerns over the deal and its impact on their
tribe. They were later released.
The Hadzabe are reported to be trying to seek a sustainable solution with all
parties concerned, which respects the tribe’s land rights and way of life.
The Hadzabe number between 1,500 and 2,000 people. They are one of Africa’s
oldest tribes and speak a click language like the Bushmen.
As they are hunter–gatherers, adequate land and natural resources are
essential to their survival. Until the 1950s they survived entirely by hunting
and gathering. Living in small mobile camps, they had no ‘chiefs’ or formal
Tanzania’s government has made repeated attempts to settle the Hadzabe in
villages and get them to take up farming. Today, most Hadzabe people live in
settlements, inside their distinctive grass huts, but they still move off into
bush camps to find food.
No Hadzabe farming has been successful, unsurprisingly, since the hot, dry
climate is unsuitable for it. One Hadza elder told Survival, ‘No Hadzabe ever
died of hunger when we had our land. But now that so much of our land has been
taken and is still being taken, many Hadzabe are hungry.’