Ecotourism Is Saving Tanzania’s Animals and Threatening Its Indigenous People

A Maasai man herds his cattle on the edge of Thomson property, defying the company's rules and intimidation practices. Guards are often dispatched to seize the cattle, and, according to witnesses, to beat herdsmen. But locals continue to risk violence because they say they have nowhere else to graze their cattle in the parched plains. (Photo: Noah Friedman-Rudovsky)

Worldwide, 8 million square miles—a landmass almost as large as the entire African continent—have been classified as protected areas by governments and conservation groups. In turn, the locals have mostly been pushed off their lands. Though no one formally counts people displaced for the sake of environmental preservation, data from the UN and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature on park footprints and population density estimate that the total number of removed people could be near 20 million.

Resaearched in the Loliondo district of Tanzania, Jean Friedman-Rudovsky's article looks at the current court case between the Masaii peoples and Thomson Safaris.

If the villages win, Wineland and Thomson said, they will appeal, but if that fails, they will respect the ruling and leave. If the villages lose the court case, neat closure is probably impossible. Several Loliondo residents told me that while they are proud to have brought the suit, they don't trust Tanzania's notorious judicial system, which is more corrupt than even the country's politicians. If the side with more power and money comes out on top, it's doubtful anyone could calm the Maasai. “We are no longer being hunted,” the local elder Lemgume said to me the day we met. “Now we are hunting. That's our ground, and we will get it back.”

Read full article on

Related Project:

Climate Change

'Fever' is a unique set of videos for indigenous communities to raise awareness and build knowledge about the issue of climate change and how it relates to indigenous peoples, cultures, rights and territories. Dubbed into 6 languages, these videos have been disseminated to local communities in over 20 countries.

Land Grabs and Land Rights

The Territories of Life toolkit is a series of 10 short videos that share stories of resistance, resilience and hope with communities on the front-line of the global rush for land. These videos, available in English, Spanish, French, Indonesian and Swalhili and are currently being disseminated widely by community facilitators.

Recent stories

Facing Extinction, Defending Life (ENGLISH)

24th May 2023
FILM: We hear from indigenous leaders around the world who are taking action and developing indigenous-led solutions to the global threats to biodiversity, the climate emergency, and the rapid destruction of cultural diversity.

Menghadapi Kepunahan, Mempertahankan Kehidupan (BAHASA)

24th May 2023
Ia berkisah tentang ancaman terhadap keanekaragaman hayati, darurat iklim, dan penghancuran keragaman budaya yang cepat: kisah yang saling terhubung tentang kehilangan yang mengancam keberadaan manusia di bumi ini.

LifeMosaic is a Not for Profit Company Limited by Guarantee (Registered company number: SC300597) and a Charity Registered in Scotland (Scottish Charity number: SC040573)