TOURISM & ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION

by Mark Gillies

The Loliondo Land Issue
In April the ongoing issue of land use in the Loliondo Division on the borders of the Serengeti National Park came to the fore once more as headlines declared ‘The End of the Maasai’ (Survival International 28 March 2013). This is an emotive issue that combines the themes of the rights of indigenous people, environmental conservation, histori­cal grievances, a perceived uncaring central government (with worse implied), and foreign hunters [see also TA 95,97,105].

The current issue dates back to 1992, when an Emirati hunting com­pany, the Ortello Business Corporation (OBC), owned by the business­man and member of the Dubai royal family Mohammed Abdulrahim Al-Ali, secured the rights to a hunting concession in Loliondo Division of Ngorongoro. However the problem can only be understood in the general context of land use and the displacement of peoples.

According to the house blog of Just Conservation, an online forum for academics and activists interested in equitable conservation, the 1992 allocation was done with a lack of procedural clarity and without consulting the relevant community representatives. As the 1990s pro­gressed, there were accusations of dubious hunting practices, including the export of live animals, although these have not been verified or recently investigated. (http://www.justconservation.org/grabbing-land-for­conservation-in-loliondo,-tanzania)

In 2009, the severe drought experienced in northern Tanzania led to conflict between OBC and the local Maasai communities as the herd­ers endeavoured to water their livestock in an area where access was prohibited by OBC. In the ensuing conflict, a Police Field Force unit restored order with a level of force that resulted in the burning of sev­eral homesteads and accusations of physical and sexual abuse. OBC defended their position by stating that herders are only denied access to the water sources during the hunting season. This runs from July to September, which unfortunately coincides with the dry season.
So, when in March this year it was announced by the government that a 1,500 square kilometre ‘wildlife corridor’ would be created in the Loliondo that would displace an estimated 30,000 people and affect
Tourism & Environmental Conservation thousands more who use the grasslands for seasonal grazing, the local communities engaged in vociferous protest.

The story has interesting local – and national – political implications. In addition to the 2012 threat to blockade the Ngorongoro Crater (The East African 8 December 2012), one protest took the form of a mass burning of CCM membership cards by Maasai women. This move caught the atten­tion of local CCM officials who, according a BBC report, made the long drive to Loliondo from Arusha to denounce the proposed corridor.

The affected communities plan to lodge a legal challenge, but as a previ­ous action from 2009 remains unheard, they are not hopeful. However, on 29 June, Prime Minister Pinda told the National Assembly that the Government had “received complaints from various stakeholders and the people of Loliondo” and would therefore review its most recent decisions regarding the Loliondo land concessions and OBC. (Daily News and http://allafrica.com/stories/201307010357.html).

Serengeti Highway proposal remains live

Map of the possible Serengeti Highway routes (courtesy Nature)

Map of the possible Serengeti Highway routes (courtesy Nature)


On 27 June word emerged that the proposed Serengeti Highway, which has provoked international condemnation [see TA 97/99], may nevertheless still be a viable project in the eyes of the Tanzanian government. The proposed budget for the financial year 2013/14 appears to contain an allocation of funds to advance the planning and design of the high­way. This is despite the reported offer by the German government and the World Bank to finance the construction of an alternate southern route that will protect the Serengeti ecosystem and arguably reach more people than the original proposed northern route. The southern route would, however, not suit the interests of mining and soda ash extraction interests operating in the northern areas. (27 June Wolfganghthome’s Blog)

Tourism taxation
On 1 July the new Tourism Development Levy came into force. The levy imposes a 2% bed night charge on all tourist accommodation. Of even more concern was the proposal to make tourism products and services liable to VAT at 18%. This move had been adopted by Uganda but rejected by Kenya. Fortunately, on 28 June the Tanzanian Assembly also rejected the imposition of the tax, which in one move would have made Tanzania a far more expensive destination (in general) than Kenya – a dangerous move.

Edward VIII: The Lion King
And finally, on 28 May in the UK, a documentary aired on Channel Four entitled ‘Edward VIII: The Lion King’. The programme was a fas­cinating account of the transition of Edward VIII, in his time as Prince of Wales, from hunter to one of the earliest advocates of African conserva­tion. Working with the famous Denys Finch Hatton, after developing an understanding of the bloody reality of the growing hunting trend, the Prince used his celebrity to draw attention to the increasing threat to the wildlife and integrity of what we now call the Serengeti ecosystem. Which just goes to show that some issues have an enduring importance beyond their local significance.

TOURISM & ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION

by Mark Gillies:

Murder of Father Mushi
Resuming my report after a gap of two issues, it is with regret that I lead with the sad story of the murder of the Roman Catholic priest, Father Evarist Mushi, shot dead at the entrance to his church on Unguja in February (see article on Religious Tensions for more details). In addition to the personal tragedy that is the death of Father Mushi, the incident contributes to a growing discourse on the alleged growing radicalisation of East African Islam and the increase in religious tension between Islam and Christianity. Such discourse, whether accurate or not, is to the detriment of Tanzania in general and Zanzibari tourism in particular.

Although there have been other seemingly similar incidents on the mainland, it remains unclear whether the Zanzibar incident can be attributed to a local dispute over land ownership or to a wider issue of religious tension.

British Airways pull out of Tanzania
British Airways have decided to discontinue their direct flights to Dar es Salaam from London Heathrow, effective from 1 April 2013. Despite being the only direct flights from the UK into Dar, the route was deemed to be no longer commercially viable.

Kenya Airways look to be the immediate beneficiary as they now offer the best connections and, generally, good value fares. However, industry insiders are now asking whether Virgin will fill the breach. So far, nothing has been confirmed, but watch this space.

Swahili Tourism Fair
Though the Tanzanian Tourist Board must be disappointed by the BA announcement, they had their own good news; the completion in February of an agreement between the tourism boards of South Africa and Tanzania to initi­ate a Swahili Tourism Fair for the first week of October. Due to be hosted at Milimani City, Dar es Salaam, the Swahili Tourism Fair will be backed by the biggest South African tourism promoter, Witch & Wizard Creative (Pty) Ltd, organisers of the hugely successful tourism ‘Indaba’ held in Durban each year.

The managing director of the Tanzania Tourist Board, Dr Aloyce Nzuki, stated that the new initiative is projected to double the number of tourists visiting the country and lead to enormous investments over five years. “Until December, last year, tourism figures stood at 950,000 foreign visitors with net earnings of $1.4 billion (about TShs2.24trillion) annually,” said Dr Nzuki at the signing ceremony. He added “we expect to attract more tourists with the implementa­tion of the Swahili Fair during the first week of every October.”

Tanzania’s ability to increase visitor numbers and tourism-related revenue was endorsed by the success of Tanzanian destinations in the 2013 Safari Awards, when Nomad Lamai camp won ‘Best New Safari Property in Africa’ (Arusha Times). Set in the rocks of the Kogakuria Kopje in the Serengeti, the Lamai is one on the three properties constructed in the area after the government released new tenders in 2006.
The Serengeti National Park was itself recently chosen as the 2013 global win­ner of the International Award of the Tourism, Hotel and Catering Industry and, more significantly, was voted one of the seven wonders of the modern world. These awards and the consistently high visitor numbers testify to the popularity and importance of the Serengeti ecosystem for tourism and conservation. What impact this will have on the government’s development plans for the region remains unclear.

And finally…

Miss Indaya (kneeling extreme right) and other members of the expedition (wfp)

Miss Indaya (kneeling extreme right) and other members of the expedition (wfp)

Miss Anna Philipo Indaya has become the first Hadzabe woman to reach the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. As reported by Peter Temba in the 8 March Daily News, Miss Indaya, a teacher at Endamaghan Primary School, reached the summit at 07:00 on Tuesday 5 March, accompanied by fellow Tanzanian Ashura Kayupayupa and seven Nepalese women. The Hadzabe, one of Tanzania’s smallest ethic groups, traditionally practice a hunter-gatherer life­style in the area of Lake Eyasi, but their lifestyle is threatened by current land use pressures. The expedition was backed by the United Nations World Food Programme, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, the Tanzania National Parks Authority and Childreach International. Well done Miss Indaya!

TOURISM & ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION

by Mark Gillies

Just as in the natural world, when the months of April bring rain, growth and much activity in Tanzania, the three months since the last edition of TA have been full of incident in the fields of tourism and environmental conservation.

New Minister
On 4 May, the BBC reported that following the highly critical report by the Controller & Auditor General’s Office which described extensive misuse of funds, President Kikwete sacked the Minister of Natural Resources & Tourism. He was replaced by Ambassador Kagasheki, a man of whom much is expected, and who has reportedly taken to his new post with vigour. In his opening address to the civil servants of the Ministry, Ambassador Kagasheki was quoted as saying, “This is a sensitive ministry, which deals with foreigners, and there­fore there is an urgent need to cleanse its tarnished corporate image.” This was taken by many as a clear condemnation of his predecessor. Tourism generates more income than mining, agriculture, or any other sector of the economy. (Dr Wolfgang Thome, ETN Uganda).

Crime
In June, the circumstantial stories of an increase in the reported incidents of violent crime in Tanzania gained a human face when a Dutch tourist and a local camp manager were killed during a robbery on the borders of the Serengeti National Park. Conscious of the potential impact of such events, police searched the area in force and made a number of arrests. Three men have subsequently been charged and await trial for murder.

On the rebound
However, despite these negative news stories, and the western economic malaise that has hit the long-haul travel industry hard, the new Minister has asserted that Tanzania’s tourism industry is ‘on the rebound’, using the increase in international airlines flying into Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) as his example of vibrancy in the tourism market. (Marc Nkwame, Daily News) Speaking at the reception for the inaugural Qatar Airways service, the Minister said the increase in traffic would benefit both the Tanzanian tourism industry and the airlines.

Kenya Airways recently started a six times a week service into KIA, while Emirates and Turkish Airways have expressed an interest in using the airport. To handle the increase in traffic, KIA has embarked on major terminal renovation and expansion that will cost over 25 million Euros. The airport handles nearly 700,000 travellers per year, and with the introduction of more interna­tional flights the number may reach the one million figure this year.

Sculptures recently installed in down-town Dar es Salaam by Karakana ya Wonder (Wonder Workshop) wonderwelders.org – photo Michuzi

Controversial projects
Several large projects championed by the Tanzanian government continue to generate headlines and vociferous argument – both for and against.

The development of Lake Natron Soda Ash Extraction Plant remains dependent upon meeting environmental impact criteria. Although the validity of these crite­ria is doubted by crit­ics, recently released budget estimates of the Ministry of Industry & Trade for 2012/13 reveal that funding has been allocated for chemical, hydrological, ecological and hydrodynamic testing (Alvar Mwakyusa ­Daily News), so expect more on this story soon.

The Serengeti Road saga also continues. At the World Heritage Committee meeting in June 2011 the Tanzanian government confirmed that the 53km stretch of road through the Serengeti National Park would not be paved and would continue to be managed by the Tanzanian National Park Authority (TANAPA). It would be used mainly for tourism and administrative purposes, which should result in a low level of traffic. The Tanzanian government was also said to be seriously considering construction of an alternative road running south of the Serengeti. (Birdlife International, 22 June).

Down in the Selous a Memorandum of Understanding was signed on 5 July for the Stiegler’s Gorge Power Project between the Rufiji Basin Development Authority and Odebrecht International. At an anticipated cost of $2 billion, depending on the design chosen, the project is projected to generate a 2100 MW capacity and to provide Dar es Salaam with a stable, long-term water source. The project will be funded through a combination of the Tanzanian Government and Brazilian credit lines. (Daily News Online Edition).

While it is accepted that Tanzania needs a greatly improved electricity network and that the burgeoning metropolis of Dar es Salaam has outgrown its current clean water provision, opponents of the scheme are concerned by the environmental impact of the project, which will see a large area of the most photogenic section of the Selous Game Reserve flooded, the unlikelihood of completing the project to budget and the ongoing cost of maintenance.

Perhaps what all these large-scale projects boil down to when balancing need with impact is trust. Trust in knowledge, trust in capability, trust in capacity and trust in intention. But trust is what seems to be lacking. And now for the uranium processing project in the Selous….

And finally….
On 24 May Apolinari Tairo reported on ETN Tanzania that despite recent predictions that Kilimanjaro’s glaciers may disappear between 2018 and 2020, recent aerial surveys had in fact revealed an increase in snow accumulation on the mountain. Predictably this provoked an online storm, with global warming advocates lining up to shake their keyboards at the nay sayers. Kilimanjaro Area Governor Gama seemed to get it right when he warned that whatever the case with the white and cold stuff, it was still of the utmost importance to check environmental degradation, such as the illegal timber felling and extraction being inflicted on the lower slopes of the mountain.

Anyway, I’ll be balancing on the top of Uhuru come October, so I’ll let you know.