At the end of a week that included wildly premature celebrations over the passage of a profoundly flawed climate bill, we relay a letter from Extinction Rebellion Global Support, reporting on an often overlooked aspect of conservation in the global south:
Since early 2022, the Maasai in northern Tanzania have intensified their fight against eviction from their ancestral lands in the Ngorongoro conservation area and Loliondo.
The government wants to use the lands to make a safari park and expand trophy hunting opportunities, and have subjected the Maasai communities to waves of violence, exclusion, and evictions. Over the past months, XR Youth Solidarity and other rebel groups have organised joint international solidarity actions with the Maasai.
In February, the Maasai organised a blockade at the entrance to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. At the same time, rebels in London and Edinburgh protested outside the Tanzanian High Commission and several travel agencies who fuel the tourism that is driving the Maasai evictions.
Conservation projects often involve the violent theft of land from indigenous and other local communities, most of whom have lived in harmony with that land for millennia. It is known as Fortress Conservation, or colonial conservation, and the Environmental Justice Atlas currently records 141 cases worldwide.
Fortress Conservation is accepted or even practiced by many well-known organizations, for example WWF, and is used by corporations to greenwash their extractivism. The Maasai and rebel groups have launched a boycott of companies that benefit from the practice and the tourism it fosters.
80% of the world’s remaining biodiversity is on indigenous lands, and communities like the Massai want to lead our efforts to protect the planet and stop ecocide, not be displaced by them.
In July, a delegation of indigenous East African people travelled to a major conservation conference in Rwanda and demanded an end to Fortress Conservation, and the beginning of indigenous led conservation without Western intervention.