European Commission cancels planned conservation funding in Tanzania over Maasai abuses

June 7, 2024

Still from a video showing Maasai people protesting the violent evictions from their ancestral lands, 2022. © Survival

In an unprecedented development, the European Commission has scrapped plans to fund conservation projects in Tanzania. The shock move follows a series of violent evictions of Maasai people from their lands to make way for conservation tourism and trophy hunting.

As part of the EU’s controversial NaturAfrica scheme, the Commission had allocated €18 million for conservation projects in both Kenya and Tanzania, but the funding will now be targeted at Kenya only. Also, new conditions that  Indigenous and local people’s human rights be respected have been added.

Tanzanian authorities are brutally evicting tens of thousands of Maasai people, despite repeated court rulings that the evictions are illegal. Big conservation organizations like the Frankfurt Zoological Society and WWF, who have a long history of collaborating with the Tanzania government on “conservation”, have not condemned the evictions –  some of which create new trophy hunting areas for the Dubai royal family.

Survival International’s Director Caroline Pearce said today: “The Maasai International Solidarity Alliance (MISA), Survival and many others have been warning the European Commission about this project, and its support to Tanzania, and thanks to the pressure it’s finally listened. The whole conservation model in East Africa is based on the brutal theft of Indigenous people’s lands for Protected Areas such as national parks and trophy-hunting zones. WWF and the Frankfurt Zoological Society are complicit in it. From safari tourism to the latest scam, Blood Carbon, these are all ways of wealthy outsiders making money from Indigenous and local people’s land.”

Read the Maasai International Solidarity Alliance's statement