NEWS 2005

 

Tanzania: Hunting Concession Allocated to Abu Dhabis"

13-Jul-05

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 individuals.

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 articles).

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.