The Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Ezekiel Maige, has warned the tribal leaders that unless a way is found to conserve the forests then he will have no choice but to order the eviction of people from a number of Maasai villages. Their leaders reject the claims and highlight the fact that Maasai community lands are among the most diverse for wildlife in Africa. This is not the first time that the Maasai have been threatened with eviction. But the question still remains, who is killing the wildlife in Loliondo?
The leaders of the Maasai believe that their traditional way of living fits in well with the local environment. They believe that they have a culture that will best preserve the region and its wildlife. This is because the maasai clans are named according to the animals and hence every maasai clan has a type of animal its taking care of. That is not all, the maasai do not eat wild animals since it’s against their traditions a maasai who by any chance eats a wild animal cannot get milk from any other maasai. According to Kooya Timan a resident of Loliondo the maasai’s way of life have not only preserved the wildlife in the area but have also being environmental friendly.
The residents of Loliondo believe that the real driving force behind the evictions was commercial hunting and conservation of hunting lands. Loliondo is fast gaining a reputation as the killing fields of Loliondo because of the numbers of wildlife that are killed during the weeks that hunting is allowed. Hunters descend on the area once the hunting season starts. The game season coincides with the mass migrations of the animals each year. Thousands of wildebeest and antelope are targeted as they undertake their annual journey back to Kenya. Management techniques used by the hunting companies include the use of fire walls to corral game into an area to make for an easy kill. The fires prevent animals from crossing the border on their normal migration paths and keep the animals within the hunting concessions.
Local residents also claim that hunting companies also build dams to make waterholes that encourage animals to congregate together. In addition to the hunting they encourages these prey animals to congregate in order to attract the big cats. These are either hunted or caught and shipped back to their nations for zoos and private collections. Hunting parties also disregard Tanzanian hunting laws – which are not enforced by any of the officials. The laws only allow for old male animals to be hunted those past their reproductive stage, in the real world though any animal is for hunt. Ages, sex, pregnant or nursing are not a barrier to being targeted and killed on these hunts.
Even after a trip to Loliondo, the question still remains unanswered as to who is killing the wildlife in Loliondo, is it the Maasai through their way of life or the investors through the hunting companies? This is a question that need to be answered since, it’s time we protect the wildlife, it’s time we save our environment, together we can!