Nine years after the controversy surrounding the 1500 square kilometers of land, in the Loliondo Game Controlled area was amicably solved, through the Prime Minister’s office, the issue seems to be rearing its ugly head again in 2022.
Residents from 14 villages located within eight wards of Loliondo Division, in Ngorongoro District, have just signed petition to oppose new plans targeting to take the land from them, allocating it for commercial hunting endevoirs, arguing that for the last 30 years the area remained under its pristine condition because the Maasai communities know how to take care of the environment.
“We have heard of underground plans to annex the 1500 square kilometers of land in the Game Controlled Area which means soon a number of villages will be asked to move away from the area, thus dislocating thousands of residents, we are not about to accept this,” stated elders of the nearly 15 local villages of Loliondo.
They were speaking in an open air meeting held at the wide plans of Olorien Village, in Loliondo. They argued that so far the issue was also at the East African Court of Justice and thus authorities should let the law take its course without interference.
Speaking on behalf of other leaders, the Chairperson of Arash Village, Mathew Siloma said the area in question lies between the 14 villages and the Serengeti National Park, but the main problem is that the Ortello Business Corporation (OBC) a hunting firm from the United Arab Emirates holds the hunting licence to conduct wildlife trekking in the precinct.
Last week, the Arusha Regional Commissioner, John Mongella and his delegation visited the area and inspected the newly erected beacons around the Loliondo Division.
The Ololoosokwan Ward Councillor, Yohana Moloimet, said when they saw the Regional Commissioner, they thought Mr Mongella was bringing latest news on new development regarding the 1500 square kilometers’ patch.
“However the RC statement was rather baffling, as he stated that the issue will consider national interest,” stated Moloimet.
Still, the Arusha Regional Commissioner, John Mongela is expected to release official statement to explain the whole issue later this week.
The residents recalled that in 2016 Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa dispatched a special commission to Loliondo to study and see ways of ensuring recurring conflicts in the area are solved once and for all.
Residents are still waiting for the feedback from the commission.
But even earlier, in 2013 the former Premier, Mizengo Peter Pinda, went to Loliondo, visited all the villages and directed, in official writing, that previous plans to annex 1500 square kilometers of land should be halted.
Loliondo Division is home to over 70,000 residents, with over 784,000 livestock between them. Which means the issue of land should be of paramount concern.
These people are forced to squeeze within a tiny 116 square kilometers of land, which was the basis for regular conflicts related to scramble for land and water sources.
A special seat councilor representing women in Loliondo, Kijoro Kakea stated that their children suffer harassment when grazing around the land in question and sometimes livestocks get confiscated.
Nine years ago, the Government scrapped off plans to carve off 1500 square kilometers from the Loliondo Game Controlled Area, with the then Prime Minister, Mr Mizengo Pinda stating that in order to solve the long-existed conflicts, things should simply revert back to the way they were before.
“The 1500 kilometers squares were meant for conservation, which is a good idea but on the other hand, we have come to conclusion that, the Maasai pastoralists, who have inhabited the area since time in memorial, are good conservationists themselves, thus can still take good care of Loliondo,” the former Premier had stated at a public rally.
The Prime Minister’s Office later advised all parties to come up with a proper land-use plan aimed at ensuring sustainable environmental preservation, wildlife protection and conservation of important river sources that pump water downstream to the Serengeti National Park and beyond.
At least 70,000 people, mostly nomadic pastoralists, live in the Loliondo and parts of Sale divisions of Ngorongoro District, many moved into the area back in 1959 after being evicted from Serengeti which was then becoming a National Park.
The 4000 Loliondo Game Controlled Area which was formed became a multi-purpose area hosting Game Hunting ventures, a bit of conservation, human residence and until now it serves as headquarters for the Ngorongoro District where the District Commissioner and Council offices are located.
Previously authorities wanted to slice 1500 square kilometers from the Loliondo division, intending to seal off the piece for conservation purposes. However, the area residents were up against the move because much of the taken land consisted of grazing areas, water sources and village plots.
Loliondo is part of the legendary Serengeti Eco-system comprising the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Maswa Game Reserve, Serengeti National Park and Maasai-Mara Game Reserve (Kenya) forming Africa’s largest wildlife area.