Hadzabe celebrate land victory

November 6, 2007

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A safari company representing clients from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has confirmed that it has withdrawn from a deal on the Hadza tribe’s land in Tanzania.

The company said in a statement, ‘The Eshkesh Safari Company has surrendered the rights it had secured in 2006 to manage and sustainably utilise the Yaeda Chini/Lake Eyasha region for hunting.’

The company had previously made a deal with the Tanzanian government.

The withdrawal is a great victory for the Hadza, a small tribe of hunter-gatherers who live in northwest Tanzania. A Hadza representative said today, ‘If it is true that the Arabs are leaving our land then I am very, very happy.’

The deal would have allowed the company to occupy a large area of Hadza land in the Yaeda Chini valley, and hunt game there.

Many Hadzabe had vigorously opposed the deal on their land as they feared that the wild game on which they rely for food would have become scarcer, resulting in hunger and hardship for many communities. They lobbied the Tanzanian government and local council, and launched an international campaign to stop the deal.

Contrary to claims by the safari company and some government officials, the Hadzabe were not fully consulted about the deal. Those Hadzabe who expressed their concerns about the deal during a meeting with government officials were silenced and two were arrested for causing a disturbance. One Hadza faces trial for ‘breaching the peace’.

Survival wrote to the governments of Tanzania and the UAE, the safari company and the UN Office for Human Rights raising concerns about the deal and the way it was brokered ,as well as the impact it would have on the Hadzabe and their livelihood.