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Tanzania to ban Maasai from land

NAIROBI — Tanzania’s government is preparing to kick Maasai tribesmen off cattle-grazing land near the country’s most famous wildlife park and will instead allow a hunting company from the United Arab Emirates to take control of it, groups and community members trying to raise awareness on the issue said Friday.

The reclassification of the land will create a ‘‘wildlife corridor’’ that will prevent the Maasai from accessing lands they have long used, thus destroying their traditional nomadic cattle-herding lifestyle, said Sarah Gilbertz of Survival International, a London-based group that works for the rights of tribal people worldwide.

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Tanzania’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism announced last week that it would not allow Maasai on a 1,500-square-kilometer section of the Loliondo Game Controlled Area ‘‘in
order to resolve existing conflicts’’ and ‘‘save the ecology’’ of the Serengeti, Ngorongoro, and Loliondo game reserves.

The groups say that is just an excuse to benefit a hunting company.

‘‘Although the government claims that the land is needed as a corridor for wildlife, the area is leased to the Ortello Business Corp. of the United Arab Emirates to use for trophy hunting,’’ Gilbertz said. Ortello couldn’t be reached for comment.

Ian Bassin, campaign director for the activist group Avaaz, said up to 68,000 Maasai villagers could be driven off the land.

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