Tanzania: Hunting Concession
Allocated to Abu Dhabis"
By Sariah Kaaya
Credible information from reliable official and nongovernmental organization
sources in Tanzania said that a hunting concession will be allocated to the
royal family of Abu Dhabi by the Tanzania Government. The hunting block lies
in Yaida Ward, Mbulu District, near Lake Eyasi in Northern Tanzania. The 3
villages affected are Yaida Chini, Mongo wa Mono and Eshkesh. The area is
mainly populated by Barabaig peasants and livestock-keepers and Hadza hunters
and gatherers. The Hadza are the last bushmen of Tanzania and still depend on
using wild natural resources in Yaida Ward. The Government has not confirmed
that the block will be allocated. All 3 village governments endorsed the
opening of hunting in their areas of jurisdiction. As can be expected in a
situation where major financial benefits are promised, opinions in the
villages and the administration are split on the issues and many political
quarrels have started already. The Arusha based representatives of the Abu
Dhabis had explored the hunting area end of March and seemed to be satisfied.
According to local sources, however, wildlife populations consisting mainly of
Thompson’s gazelles, wildebeest, impala and some of the rarer antelopes are
low and have been over-utilized in recent years through resident night hunting.
The block has no migration which could fill the gaps. Cats are reported as
rare and the few buffaloes stay mainly in the tsetse infested thickets and are
difficult to hunt from cars, which is the preferred hunting method.
The sheiks are required to pay the normal hunting block fee of 7,500 US$ per
year plus the trophy fees for the quota used. They have promised to support
the District, e.g. through a secondary school, paved roads and airstrip,
motorcycles and employment and have a donated already a Landrover to the
District Game Officer of Mbulu.
The United Arab Emirates are known for major donations to Tanzanian
institutions and individuals in recent years in relation to the hunting
concession of Loliondo which they use since the early nineties. The Loliondo
concession is owned by the Dubai royal family, but the Abu Dhabis are also
allowed to hunt there. They are known to come in as groups of about 100 men at
a time, of which many hunt. There are normally 2 Government game scouts
present, but they are unable to keep an overview of what is happening due to
many foreign hunters involved. The sheiks from Dubai have the reputation of
hunting in a more controlled way in Loliondo than their neighboring relatives.
Many allegations of overshooting quotas and unethical hunting have been raised
in recent years by different NGOs. The Kenyan press even created the term “Loliondogate”.
The accusations could rarely be substantiated and have always been repudiated
by the Tanzanian Government which entertains historically close relations to
the Gulf States. Undoubtedly much money has been spent by the concession
holders of the Loliondo block, but this was not in the form of transparent and
well planned projects, but more on an ad hoc basis and often ending up with
Dubai pays the whole quota allocated in Loliondo irrespective of whether it is
used or not (game fees are normally paid only, if the animals are killed). The
total trophy quota value of approx. US$300,000 paid by the Arab concession
holders of the Loliondo block therefore generates the highest revenue of all
hunting blocks for the Government. This is all the more significant, since
Loliondo does not have any elephants (the highest value trophy animal) on the
quota. The value of the fully paid trophy quota (whether hunted or not) for
Loliondo is put into an interesting pe rspective when compared to the trophy
fees realized from some of the best elephant hunting blocks in Tanzania. An
international well-known hunting and photographic safari operator who has
hunted these prime blocks already for a very long time paid in 2003
approximately US$50,000 in trophy fees The net realizable market value of
prime concession areas is far from being achieved – see also other related
The management of hunting lies with the Wildlife Division of the central
Government and decisions on the allocation of blocks are taken without any
local participation and sometimes against the wishes of the villages affected.
25 % of hunting proceeds go to the Districts where this money is normally used
for general administrative purposes and rarely reaches the villages concerned.
Local NGOs demand therefore in the Yaida case transparency, written contracts
about the promised benefits and arrangements, agreed natural resource and land
use plans according to Tanzanian laws, a wildlife census and full
participation of the communities. There are in particular human rights’
worries, as the Hadza hunter-gatherers also use the hunting block as part of
their traditional life style. The District Game Officer was quoted that there
would be no conflict, but also that the Hadza living in the bush would have to
move into villages during hunting season.