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Conservation groups blamed after forced removal of local communities

Across social media human rights organisations have been condemning the evictions and violence against Maasai tribes in Tanzania who are currently being removed from their ancestral homelands to make way for the development of luxury eco-tourism resorts and conservation areas.

At the same time, around the world governments are being lobbied, often by US eco-charities, to protect allocated quotas of land for conservation.

The campaign group ‘Stop WWF’s New Deal for Nature” said in a statement on the developments in Tanzania: “The evictions of the Maasai in Tanzania is what happens under colonial conservation. Without huge uproar many more evictions of indigenous peoples for safari tourism will take place if government agrees to the 30x30 campaign.”

Unsurprisingly many of these international conservation charities have now sought to distance themselves from the actions of the Tanzanian government after footage emerged of live rounds being fired into the crowd of Maasai.

Clearly what is happening in Tanzania is wrong on many levels however, whilst no one in the uplands has been fired upon by live ammunition, there are similarities with what is taking place in our own country with moorland communities, particularly hill farmers and gamekeepers, being cleared away.

Many of these individuals have worked the same land for generations. Yet these same conservation organisations now condemning what is taking place in Tanzania are often the ones whose actions and public sentiments have led to the widespread harassment and breakdown of our moorland communities.

Take for example the much publicised takeover of the Kinrara Estate in the Cairngorns by BrewDog, the major brewery and pub chain, to create a ‘luxury environmental hotel’. The takeover was widely championed by the conservation industry, despite the widespread claims that gamekeepers, farmers and domestic staff who were previously employed there, many of whom for generations, were moved on.

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association raised concerns about their fate at the time saying. “Any loss of gamekeeping jobs is obviously a big concern for us,” a spokesman said. “Local land managers will know that the area to be planted is a key wintering ground for a host of iconic species. There are at least three pairs of nesting eagles in the vicinity that have fed on the deer, grouse and hare food source created over many years through moorland management by gamekeepers. Losing this is not going to enhance biodiversity.”

It is interesting isn’t it how quickly conservation charities are happy to champion the plight of local community groups in far flung parts of the world, yet do exactly the opposite in their own backyard.

The moorland communities stand united with Maasai tribes and other local community groups around the world.


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