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Year : 2011  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 25-34

'Ha! What is the benefit of living next to the park?' Factors limiting in-migration next to Tarangire National Park, Tanzania

US Fish and Wildlife Service-Office of Subsistence Management, Anchorage, Alaska, USA, and Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA

Correspondence Address:
Alicia Davis
US Fish and Wildlife Service-Office of Subsistence Management, Anchorage, Alaska, USA, and Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.79184

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Date of Web Publication8-Apr-2011


Controversies and contestations of park and other protected area policies, new conservation rules and regulations (formal and informal), and new land classifications are redefining land and resource use, and thus livelihood options, for four ethnically distinct communities around Tarangire National Park, Tanzania. Research was conducted on how livelihoods have been shaped by perceptions of and in response to conservation policies and community-based conservation projects. Several factors were revealed that provide examples of perceived problems and issues, which would deter in-migration to these communities bordering a national park. Migration into these areas, located to the east, north-west, and western border of Tarangire National Park may be limited, at best, due to issues of fear and mistrust, lack of access to and alienation from land and resources, ethnicity, and litigious actions. This paper addresses these limiting factors, revealing how real world examples of conservation issues can be used to inform policy, rather than relying solely on statistical-based modelling.

Keywords: community-based conservation, migration, protected areas, Tarangire National Park, Tanzania

How to cite this article:
Davis A. 'Ha! What is the benefit of living next to the park?' Factors limiting in-migration next to Tarangire National Park, Tanzania. Conservat Soc 2011;9:25-34

How to cite this URL:
Davis A. 'Ha! What is the benefit of living next to the park?' Factors limiting in-migration next to Tarangire National Park, Tanzania. Conservat Soc [serial online] 2011 [cited 2023 Mar 22];9:25-34. Available from: https://www.conservationandsociety.org.in//text.asp?2011/9/1/25/79184

   Introduction Top

What does it mean to live on the border of a national park in Tanzania? How do people perceive risks and potential gains associated with living next to a national park? How do concrete conservation practices shape livelihoods, and how, in turn, does this affect patterns of human migration around protected areas (PAs)?

To answer such questions I draw on 18 months of research from four separate locations around Tarangire National Park (TNP). This multi-site project aimed to compare the experiences and issues of the four distinct ethnic groups-the Maasai, the Arusha, the Mbugwe, and the Iraqw-living next to TNP.

Recent work (Wittemyer et al. 2008) suggests that the growth of social services and development associated with more people-friendly PA management may lead to population growth in areas adjacent to PAs, something clearly counter to conservation goals. This argument is based on 1) statistical modelling, and 2) the suggestion that conservation funding is providing benefits to local communities that are associated with PAs. This report shows how such an argument is flawed in three fundamental ways. First, by relying solely on statistical modelling and not capturing the nuanced details on the ground in different places. Second, by assuming that the benefits associated with PAs will outweigh the costs for those living nearby. Finally, by assuming that in-migration is not limited by other socio-economic and cultural factors. I show this through ethnographic analysis of four different cases in northern Tanzania which explore how people live near PAs and how this then prevents others from coming into those communities (or, demonstrates how others might not want to come in).

Population increases around PAs are supposedly a direct result of the PA itself, and the assumed benefits associated with it, leading to in-migration. Integrated conservation and development programmes (ICDP) next to PAs, community-based conservation (CBC) projects, potential jobs, and improved services are part of these perceived benefits. Detailed ethnographic study around one critical PA in northern Tanzania tells another story, a story where there are limited benefits brought to an area as a result of the national park, where perceptions of the park often reflect long standing contentious histories of conservation, and where other critical factors lead to very negative perceptions of PAs more generally. The idea of benefits (or perceived benefits) is not only misleading, but presupposes that said benefits would potentially outweigh the negative relationships, histories, problems, risks and conflicts involved in living next to a PA. This report challenges this argument by examining the assumptions and perceptions people have about living next to PAs. This report intends to demonstrate how detailed ethnographic study can reveal the complex interactions people have with PAs and the necessity of exploring such interactions before making broad generalisations, which can impact conservation policy.

Tanzania's lengthy and complex history of conservation is based on policies of exclusion, including forced movements as well as prohibition of resource use and land access. 1 The recent attempts in Tanzania to rectify past exclusions through CBC practices provide a compelling foreground to discuss the interactions of communities with, as well as their perceptions of living next to, PAs. A close look, however, shows that little has changed as a result of CBC efforts around TNP, at least in terms of attitudes and perceptions about PAs. In fact, migration into the study areas, located to the east, north-west, and western border of TNP is limited due to issues of fear and mistrust, lack of access to and alienation from land and services, ethnicity, and litigious conflict. In this report I present an in-depth analysis of one case; the other three are described in less detail. Collectively they reveal the limitations to in-migration and conservation benefits as well as the necessity to approach conservation-human dynamics on local scales.

   Study Area & Methods Top

TNP is 2642 sq. km of semi-arid short grass savannahs, riverine forests, and savannah woodlands in the Arusha region of northern Tanzania [Figure 1]. It is a part of the Tarangire-Manyara Ecosystem, which spans 20,000 sq. km in northern Tanzania. The Tarangire-Manyara Ecosystem contains two national parks, two game controlled areas (GCA), 2 a game reserve, a wildlife management area (WMA) 3 spanning nine villages and diverse ecological features. TNP was gazetted as a game reserve in the 1950s and as a national park in 1970 (TANAPA 2009). 4
Figure 1: Map of study area around Tarangire National Park

Click here to view

For the past 25 years, proponents of conservation in Tanzania (and elsewhere in east Africa) have pointed to the importance of conservation efforts outside national park boundaries and within human-inhabited landscapes as critical to maintaining healthy migratory wildlife populations. Just outside TNP are over 100 villages, 5 of which 42 share a border with the park. Many of these villages were integrated into the Tanzanian National Parks Association's (TANAPA) first community conservation programme, Ujirani Mwema (Good Neighbourliness). Research was conducted in four such villages over a combined period of 18 months (December 2005-January 2007 and June 2007-October 2007). Approximately 35 household interviews per village and 45 total group interviews were conducted, with a total of over 300 individuals participating in the study. Data collection and methods centered on risk perceptions associated with living on the border of a national park, and included a combination of questionnaires, surveys, informal interviews, and participant observation. 6 The study included four different ethnic groups, practicing a range of livelihood strategies, e.g., pastoralism, agro-pastoralism, agriculture. Additionally, and despite the early claims of the 'success' of the Ujirani Mwema CBC initiative, which was aimed at gaining local acceptance of TNP (Bergin 2001; Kangwana & Ole Mako 2001), local populations in all four study sites expressed varying degrees of distrust and perceived risks associated with the park. So while national parks, in general, can bring perceived widespread benefits for those who live next to them, most people living in my study area saw the situation quite differently, as expressed in the rhetorical question posed by an elder from Simanjiro, which elicited nods and calls of agreement from others: "ha, what is the benefit of living next to the park?" 7

Maasaini: Fear, Mistrust, and 'Ile Barua'

TNP is bordered on the east by Simanjiro District, which comprises about four dozen villages over a vast expanse of land (20,000 sq. km, with 7 people/sq. km-one of lowest population densities in Tanzania), and is predominantly Maasai in ethnic makeup. Maasai pastoralists have lived in and utilised the plains in Simanjiro since the mid-nineteenth century. During the twentieth century, several crises such as drought and zoological epidemics, along with British colonial state controls over land, led the Maasai to settle and follow a more regular pattern of transhumant pastoralism in the Simanjiro Plains, which relied on maintaining communal pastures open for grazing. Elders agreed, during group interviews, that populations rose slightly in Simanjiro because of in-migration, after groups of Maasai families were evicted from the Serengeti National Park mid-century. 8 In Simanjiro, Maasai pastoralists were (and are) dependent on wells and seasonal rivers and swamps (inside and outside what is now TNP) to maintain livestock herds and human settlements (Igoe 2002b).

In Simanjiro district, there are short grass plains and woodlands on the upland plateau on the western edge and low lying plains to the east. Outside Serengeti, the Simanjiro Plains are the location of the second largest wildebeest migration in Africa, and are home to a critical wildebeest calving ground and grazing area. Maasai people historically shared pasture with and were tolerant of wildlife, a relationship that went unrecognised in dominant conservation and development narratives as concomitant, until recently. 9 Since independence, and especially during Villagisation, 10 'proper land use' in Tanzania has been associated with farming. The open/communal grazing lands of Simanjiro have been viewed by the state as 'empty'. Where common lands used for grazing cattle alongside wildlife existed, Maasai villagers had not, until very recently, put them into government land use plans to show their 'use' or ownership. 11 In line with Tanzanian policies that land needs to be 'used' (i.e., farmed) to be claimed, in the past decade, Maasai families in Simanjiro have made concerted efforts to 'claim' common lands, those seen as 'unused', by demonstrating land use as deemed proper by the state, i.e., farming. However, concern has been sparked by conservationists, and efforts have been made to halt this type of land use in the region, as farming is not seen as congruent with conservation goals. Within the past decade, fuelled by fears of land loss to outsiders, Maasai communities in Simanjiro have attempted to formalise village boundaries and deal with border conflicts through 'official' means, i.e., mapping and village registration (Schroeder & Hodgson 2004). This process was in part sparked by the loss of critical pasture and water resources to conservation, as well as a fear that the continued expansion of PAs will lead to more resource loss. Thus formalisation of land tenure and land use security is now seen as vital. 12

As a part of gaining tenure security, Maasai families have begun to expand land under cultivation. However, farming is not solely about tenure. Maasai people farm to meet subsistence needs. 13 In recent years, farming has increased in importance for Maasai livelihoods in Simanjiro due to decreased livestock numbers (from disease and drought) alongside government policies that promote agriculture (Homewood & Rogers 1991). As one concerned Maasai woman stated in an interview demonstrating this critical link, '…where will I be able to farm again? Then, what will I eat?' 14 Another Maasai woman stated 'we don't want our land sold for wildlife …we're told we can't farm because of wildlife, we now have ugomvi [a conflict]-so where will we farm?' Past demonisation of Maasai pastoralist livelihood strategies as being non-cohesive with wildlife or national development goals was taken quite seriously. 15 Over the past century there has been a general push for Maasai pastoralists to 'settle' and adopt land use practices (i.e., cultivation) that coincide with Tanzanian norms.

Thus increased livelihood diversification from pastoralism to farming and the migration of wildlife outside the park makes the human-wildlife shared lands of the Simanjiro Plains a focus for conservationists who have expressed a desire to protect critical wildlife habitat from increased human use (Igoe 2002b; Cooke 2007; McCabe 2007; Leslie & McCabe 2008; Sachedina 2008; Sachedina & Trench 2009). Additionally, trends in global conservation sciences have tilted towards landscape conservation programmes and 'corridor' management in this region (Goldman 2009). Conservationists see corridors as critical places for conservation of migratory species outside national parks (Bolger et al. 2008; Goldman 2009). Since the Simanjiro Plains are viewed as an important wildlife corridor, conservation organisations have expressed concern about Maasai farming practices there (AWF 2009; Goldman 2009).

Land alienation in Simanjiro is a real and significant threat to local communities. In addition to conservation-related land loss, land alienation has also been occurring in the area for the past 20 years, both from illegal purchases and land allocation to elites, through processes not entirely transparent to residents of the area, i.e., land purchased without title and through illegal titles (Igoe 2002b). Land is also perceived by local residents as 'threatened' through conservation-related activities. Maasai communities in Simanjiro fear that 'the government' or conservation organisations 16 want to expand the boundaries of TNP into Simanjiro to subsume the plains to protect wildebeest. 17 Thus, following Maasai concerns over land grabs by conservationists or opportunistic elites, an expanding park, and meeting subsistence needs (Igoe 2002a, 2002b, 2006; Sachedina 2008), Maasai groups in Simanjiro have reasonably determined that if the land is allocated, occupied, and 'used' (i.e., farmed) then it cannot be taken away. These threats or risks, occurring and perceived, are shaping land use and decisions at both individual and community levels. Anthropologists and geographers working in the area have also noted that farms were recently appearing in strategic locations due to previous and current contentious relationships with conservationists, safari organisations, the national park, and international conservation organisations (Lynn pers. comm.; McCabe pers. comm.; Cooke 2007; Sachedina 2008). Some have even suggested people are conducting 'defensive farming', farming in specific wildlife inhabited areas, so that conservationists and their continual encroachment on Maasai autonomy and control over their resources would be driven away.

However, new conservation strategies and policies, encouraged by large conservation organisations, stress the compatibility of livestock herding and wildlife. The portrayal of pastoral systems as compatible with wildlife policy and environmental protection now paints the idyllic pastoralist Maasai as true conservationists. Farming does not fit into this picture. Simultaneously, influential east African conservation advocates point out that wildlife corridors are blocked by farming, that the plains are 'disappearing' and that action needs to be taken.

While I was conducting research in Simanjiro in 2006, issues relating to farming, land use, and perceptions about conservation were extremely sensitive. In the name of conservation, farming was 'banned' in the Simanjiro Plains, through a directive which came from regional government officials to local governments. Though the ban was not rigidly enforced and only affected a few select villages in Simanjiro, to the residents of those villages, the regional government had staged what amounted to an 'intervention'. Despite the fact that highly political figures had farms in the 'corridor', the Regional Commissioner wrote a letter to several villages in Simanjiro close to TNP, banning farming (and land allocations) in the Simanjiro Plains with immediate effect. I was shown the letter by village leaders in the hopes that I could offer insight. Though the legality of the directives put forth in this letter was in question, 18 the letter sent an uproar through communities. Village governments were concerned because they did not understand where this directive was coming from. Village citizens blamed local governments for 'selling' their land to greedy higher ups, and worse, to conservationists. Suspicions abounded that the letter had originated with conservation organisations, not the regional offices, sending people into a fury. Sachedina (2008) presents evidence that links the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) to the letter and the push to ban agriculture in the Plains. But while I was conducting research, only early speculations were expressed to me by residents, who had yet to put all the pieces together: "We heard they sold our land…[who did?]…the leaders…[why?]…because they want to eat our money." "They'll (TANAPA) move us out of our land to put animals in." "They (AWF) want to take my land for the purpose of wildlife."

With farming now 'officially' banned in the area, potential in-migration for non-Maasai people (most of whom are agriculturalists) will be highly unappealing, especially if the ban remains in place. Migrants into rural areas need a source of livelihood. In rural northern Tanzania, there are limited economic opportunities besides pastoralism or farming, thus the lack of farmland could be a heavy deterrent to in-migration. The highly politicised move by the Tanzanian government makes the area hostile and unavailable for outsiders. Additionally, the local political climate is contentious; people are frustrated and have a large distrust of outsiders and any non-community members who are viewed as potential land grabbers.

In several group interviews, people also expressed their complete distrust of conservationists, researchers, and national park authorities. They viewed these people as the source for this menacing letter and ban. People spoke with vehemence about the park, wildlife, and conservation, seeing the ban on cultivation as a means to starve Maasai families, put wildlife over people, and protect land for future conservation-related acquisition. Thus, people spoke about wanting to keep all outsiders away, farm up the entire plains, move away themselves, or put their lives on the line to stop the park from moving in. It was common to hear phrases like:

We are standing up alone… we are many. They [the leaders] are few. So we can all be together. We don't want this. But it's hard because we think they've already sold our village. (Maasai elder woman, interview, Simanjiro)

I heard the head of the district coming. Do you know why and what can he do? We the women are going to stand up and tell him "Do not sell our land!"

'Ile barua' (that letter) as it came to be known by Maasai residents throughout Simanjiro created a great tumult. Few had seen, fewer had read, and many doubted the legality of ile barua. 19 After the commotion died down, in order to prevent further disputes over land, one of the villages decided to allocate every last bit of land to village families, create a more concrete land use plan, and open other areas in the village for farming.

Limits on land use and politics are serious and concrete deterrents to in-migration into Simanjiro. One additional issue relates to CBC in the area. The Ujirani Mwema programme, initiated by TANAPA, was designed in part to alleviate much of the animosity and fear that local communities, such as the Maasai in Simanjiro, associated with national parks. The programme's efforts, however, based on providing improved social services such as schools or clinics to villages neighbouring the park, have been met with disdain throughout Simanjiro. After a number of years of implementing CBC programmes, the majority of local residents expressed the view that building a classroom or training community rangers was hardly the 'benefit sharing' that would encourage positive views about the park. Revenue sharing from private conservation enterprises, however, has also occurred in Simanjiro (Sachedina 2008). Nonetheless, the actual financial benefits of such enterprises are unevenly (and often non-transparently) distributed (Sachedina 2008). Many people therefore, saw the inability to access critical resources such as water and pasture, combined with the perceived threat of TNP expanding into village lands, as cancelling other purported 'benefits' from conservation. 20

Maasai residents of Simanjiro, in their attempts to survive beside a national park have limited options themselves. As livelihood options became increasingly more threatened, challenging people's ability to survive, in-migration becomes very unlikely for two reasons: 1) the ability to diversify livelihoods to include farming have been severely limited as land use options are sparse, and 2) local residents have grown suspicious of outsiders, especially those seeking land. In-migrants seeking livelihood options in Simanjiro would not receive land, nor could they freely farm if they were to obtain land. As the situation in Simanjiro demonstrates, there are often complex factors around PAs that would deter in-migration.

Sangaiwe Village: Access & Alienation-Mbugwe Cohesion

The case of Mbugwe farmers in Sangaiwe village on the northwest border of Tarangire represents another example of possible deterrents for migration into locales adjacent to PAs. The Burunge Wildlife Management Area (WMA) was officially gazetted in 2006. Originally started as a pilot programme in 1999/2000, sponsored by AWF and the Wildlife Division, WMAs were intended to create PAs outside village lands, devolve some control to local communities, and enable economic gains for communities from wildlife-based tourism. 21 However, the legislation behind WMAs is fuzzy, and the extent to which it actually gives autonomy to local communities is debatable (Igoe & Brockington 1999; Goldman 2003; Igoe & Croucher 2007). 22 WMAs were promoted as a means for villages to profit from wildlife, by inviting investment from private safari companies into potential wildlife-rich areas. Villages such as Sangaiwe were directed by a conservation NGO (AWF in this case) to demarcate land for specific uses within the village, giving up much of what was left of common grazing areas and common resources areas, for conservation. Village leadership, the primary people aware of the WMA, looked at it initially as a panacea that would provide wealth and a means to access benefits from the national park. Despite the murkiness of policy and benefit, leaders in Sangaiwe saw potential benefits and accepted the WMA. However, much of the process of gazetting the WMA occurred without the majority of citizens or village leadership actually having a firm grasp of the changes in land status (Igoe & Croucher 2007). At the time of my research, the majority interviewed only knew they were no longer able to access certain areas, and people stated-in interview after interview-that they were unaware of what the WMA was exactly and some claimed they did not know it existed at all. People also expressed fear, now that much of the land was tied up in 'conservation', that there was not enough land either for themselves or for their children to inherit. 23 Additionally, people noted that real development needs water, which is in part tied to access to the park. 24 The lack of basic needs, such as water access, is another deterrent to in-migration as expressed through sentiments such as: "Water is the biggest problem, we don't have any…" "What is development without water?"

WMAs have closed off resources and land to common usages; open village lands have now mostly been placed under PA status. The little remaining common land is being reserved for the Mbugwe residents. Village organisations and leadership 25 purportedly have the final say about which tourism enterprises may come into the area. Village leaders expressed a desire to specifically promote Mbugwe participation and involvement in tourism (especially cultural tourism), 26 making that a desired precursor for any interested private enterprises. The village government is also the body that allocates village lands and gives permission for settlement in the area. Mbugwe leadership in Sangaiwe expressed a desire to help their people, but even this is limited. Representing a frequent theme, an Iraqw resident in an Mbugwe village stated, "I'm Iraqw, and access to land is not available in this village". Given the significant portion of land set aside for conservation, land for human use is both sparse and unavailable to outsiders. The exclusion of outsiders is not new in Mbugwe areas. Though not common practice today, Mbugwe communities had a long tradition of seclusion and suspicion of non-Mbugwe. Explained quite well during one interview, as the interviewee gave me a tour of their home, they explained the maze of walls within the house: "Our traditional houses were built that way for a reason, with many places to hide, we didn't eat with or feed strangers…we would even urinate inside so we didn't have to leave, outside…there were witches, and worse, strangers…"

One sub-village (mostly comprised of non-Mbugwe), experiences the effects of this ethnic autonomy and favouritism. Around five years ago, on the edge of Sangaiwe, in the sub-village furthest from TNP border, a number of non-Mbugwe families moved in during a period of exceptionally good rains that made the area especially appealing for rice farming. However in numerous interviews, these non-Mbugwe residents expressed a desire to leave Sangaiwe. They felt they were not well represented in village government, and that their needs were not met out in this 'remote' sub-village (approximately 5 km from the village centre) because they were not Mbugwe. They believed they were ignored as they did not have customary representation (e.g., elders to speak for them). Many people in this sub-village were also somewhat confused by the WMA. They noted the WMA was one more factor making them want to leave the village. The new rules and village game scouts promoting conservation made meeting basic resource needs very difficult as the WMA cut off access to fuel wood, building materials, grasses, and additional farmland. Whether actual or perceived, people's alienation from village decisions, lack of livelihood choices, blocked access to resources, shallow roots in the landscape, and concerns over being moved for wildlife, make staying in Sangaiwe tentative and provisional as was expressed during several interviews: "…Because we are so far, we get no news, no nothing-because of this we're missing out on services and development." "Conservation (uhifadhi) is here for wildlife not us, so they can move us." "We never hear what's going on [out here]. …we can possibly loose our rights." "We are poor…if we plant and get rain, then we have less risk, if none [no rain], maybe we'll move from here."

Ethnic minorities in the area felt excluded from community discussions and decisions and felt that their livelihoods were threatened. Mbugwe residents too had restricted access to land and resources. Deterrents for in-migration exist on multiple fronts. This case illustrates that in Sangaiwe village next to TNP, several factors limit in-migration rather than promote it. Sangaiwe's proximity to the national park made it a target for yet more conservation (WMA). Historic practices of ethnic favouritism (for Mbugwe) have been strengthened as land has become more valuable and rare, as much of it is put aside for conservation. Confusion and lack of knowledge about conservation has also led to more fears of outsiders (as in Simanjiro). Finally, there is just less land to give out.

Iraqw Inheritance: Dreams & Acreage

The Mamire area on the western border of TNP has historically seen a great deal of immigration, separate from conservation-related issues. 27 This case provides an example of what happens when a village next to a park is simply next to a large expanse of land people no longer have access to. As the Iraqw living in Mwinkantsi demonstrate, they receive nothing in return of the park's presence, except restrictions on access to land. People here have little reason to stay, (let alone move in) when all the land is gone and the village cannot expand to accommodate population growth, because there is a PA.

As agro-pastoralists/intensive-agriculturalists, the Iraqw dominate the Mamire area. They themselves being 'recent' arrivals in the area, the Iraqw pushed out pastoralists who had previously used the area seasonally. 28 Mwinkantsi village is a relatively densely populated area in comparison with the other two sites discussed (Tanzania National Bureau of Statistics 2002). The Iraqw had a number of settlement waves in the area from their 'homeland'-an intensively farmed area in the Mbulu highlands. A key element to this immigration was that it began before the park, and was part of Tanzanian development interventions made without conservation (or the park) in mind. The 'settlement' of this area, however, is not without impact on land and resources, and is only exacerbated by its proximity to the park. Thus, this area historically affected by immigration, is now overcrowded. Overcrowding combined with conservation-related limitations on resources is leading to out-migration, not further in-migration. Over the past 50 years, one of the results of in-migrations and the Iraqw settlements in the area has been decreased wildlife populations (Borner 1985). 29 One of the key factors that led to this decline was agriculture. Farming directly on the park's border began by the Iraqw settlers who arrived in the late 1950s and early 1960s after being allocated land as payment for working on colonial tsetse fly eradication schemes.

Villagisation in the mid 1970s occurred after TNP had been formally established and brought the largest wave of the Iraqw into the area. But large-scale farms, both commercial operations as well as private subsistence-based farms, were present in the area prior to Villagisation. Original settlers received 25 acres; those who came during Villagisation were first given 10 acres, then 5 as the landscape filled with people and farms. By the mid 1980s, immigration into the area all but stopped, as village lands were almost entirely allocated, primarily to the children of those brought by Villagisation. By the 1990s, 5 acre allocations lessened to 3 acres. By the mid 1990s, there was no land left to allocate. Finally, common grazing lands and village common lands were subdivided for residents without access to land through inheritance.

One of the problems continually voiced by the Iraqw in Mwinkantsi during group and individual interviews was the lack of land and resources. People had no access to building materials unless they planted and harvested their own trees or bought bricks. No common areas to graze cattle existed except in the steepest ravines, and there would not be enough land to pass down to children. As several older Iraqw residents of Mwinkantsi eloquently stated in a group interview,

… Population/people increase but land doesn't increase…Kids stay with parents, depend on parents, (with) no way to get land, parents didn't leave them any, (they) must look for work or employment elsewhere… Parents may only have 3 acres, ha! You can't divide that anymore.

The village designated an area directly abutting the park as a 'conservation' area, a small village 'buffer zone' near the park. Village leadership insisted that this conservation area was important to maintain, as growing populations of elephants and other wildlife constantly raided farms near the park. The Iraqw landscape is made of tidy farms, planted trees and live fencing, space made useful by cultivation and division. As further divisions have been made and cultivation has increased over the years, these tidy farms have replaced all but the tiniest remnant of a village conservation area. And today, as there is no longer land to divide, younger residents expressed exasperation with the lack of land for their future families and livelihoods. Many expressed the desire and need to move to the nearby cities of Arusha or Babati in search of work, as many of their friends had done. Though there is a park gate and ranger post on Mwinkantsi's border where a scant two or three rangers reside there is no access into the park at this post. The only tourist venture nearby was a safari camp located inside the park, but it had recently moved elsewhere. When the safari camp was there, it hired local people on only one occasion, to clear brush. Thus tourism-based economic opportunities in this area have been virtually non-existent. Mwinkantsi's lack of tourist/park-based concessions, lack of farmland, and scarce grazing land is another deterrent for people seeking opportunities to migrate into the area. People continually express concern over the lack of land and opportunity; they share dreams of open land, elsewhere.

Mwinkantsi, rather than a place to move to has become a place people want to move from. Places on the other side of TNP, like Simanjiro, seem inviting, in part because people believe popular stereotypes of Maasai people as 'pure' pastoralists, and therefore think much of the land is 'open'. When I would talk about working in Simanjiro, people would ask, or even just state pragmatically, "we hear there is farm land available in Simanjiro?!" Similar statements were repeated such as, "the Maasai don't 'use' their land" or "that [Simanjiro] is an area with no problems, not like here" or "the soil there is untouched, it is still bush" or "I would love the chance to settle there". There was a sense of desperation amongst the citizens of Mwinkantsi. People wanted to believe there was land available elsewhere, that if land ran out in Mwinkantsi, there would be open land to settle. People believed that in Simanjiro there were no 'problems', especially with the park. In reality, if they attempted to find land in Simanjiro, they would be met with distrust and scorn. There would be a new host of issues and restrictions regarding land use and access. Based on the misconceptions that the Maasai didn't 'use' their land, the Iraqw of Mwinkantsi would more likely be met with crossed arms (disdain) than open arms in Simanjiro. The dream of available land in Simanjiro is not because it is near the park, but because the Iraqw believe unfarmed land is 'available' land, and Simanjiro is simply on the other side of 'unavailable land', i.e., the park. But people would look out towards the park, towards the Silalo swamps, toward Simanjiro's visible hills and plains and still shake their heads contemplating their lack of land.

Gijedabung Intensity: Lawsuits & Hostility

The village of Gijedabung, south of Mwinkantsi is a final example of intensely dissuading circumstances for in-migration around TNP. The village of Gijedabung borders TNP on the western side and south of Mwinkantsi, and is embroiled in a lawsuit with TANAPA. The village is suing TANAPA for the right to remain in contested village lands. TANAPA claims people and their farms slowly encroached onto park lands. Villagers claim that TANAPA re-measured the park boundary a few years ago and made false claims that people were now 'inside' the park. The level of hostility towards the park peaked while I was conducting research. In 2006, TANAPA announced that approximately 50 households in Gijedabung (as well as over 150 others in two neighbouring villages) would have to move after that year's harvests. Tensions mounted after several people were arrested, including the village chairman, who was gathering support to oppose the park's decision. People refused to leave without a guarantee of new farms, insisting that the district government had encouraged migration into the area during the 1980s demonstrating through maps where village lands ended and parkland began.

Representatives from the district government agreed that their advice had been wrong but took no move to correct it after they had learned of their mistakes. TANAPA began patrolling the area in their vehicles, packed with gun-toting rangers arresting people for any signs of 'land use' in the disputed area. People in the village spoke about the dispute with frustration: "Our only problem-our only thought now is this land dispute, our farms, everything else, those are just daily thoughts".

The lawsuit begun in 2006 and is still pending. Hostilities have not subsided and villagers remain fearful of further 'encroachment', land acquisition, and bullying by park authorities. Many expressed a simple desire to just move away from the park and anything like it, but they had nowhere to go: "If (the) park moves us where will we go? We are looking for what rights we have." "There will come a date when they will say to move-and where will we go? We are very very much worried about this …"

In Gijedabung, the park is threatening local people's livelihoods and peace of mind. This environment would be anything but hospitable to people seeking opportunities from living next to a park, making the area very uninviting to potential in-migrants. 30 Counter to inviting people through benefits, the park is, in fact, evicting people from the area.

   Conclusions Top

History, ethnic identity, national land policies, and human perceptions shape interactions with land, wildlife, and resources. Ethnographic data has the potential to tell stories of people who face real world circumstances, which statistics may overlook. Each situation presented above illustrates unique factors that deter in-migration around TNP. There are several key commonalities across the cases. All villages in Tanzania were included in Ujamaa policies of building Tanzanian unity and socialism during the 1970s. 31 Most villages were also recipients of social services and infrastructure during Villagisation. Though the impacts of Villagisation varied significantly between agriculturalists and pastoralists, Tanzanians as a whole were faced with issues of forced resettlement (whether moved themselves or recipients of new people into community structures). 32 Though a Tanzanian national identity and unity have been encouraged since independence, ethnic cohesion and homogeneity in communities is still the norm. 33

Before we can consider what draws people towards PAs, it is important to understand how people already living near PAs perceive living near them. Many complexities were revealed, including potential limits to in-migration, through asking the questions: How do concrete conservation practices shape livelihoods? What risks do people perceive as caused by living next to a PA? Further complexity was added by attempting to ascertain what it means for various ethnic groups with varying livelihood practices to live on the border of a national park. Comprehensive analysis of perceived risks 34 relating to living next to a national park are highly skewed towards fears of park expansion, loosing land and livelihood options to the interests of wildlife, wildlife conflicts and damages to crops, humans, and livestock, and restrictions on being able to address issues of poverty and drought. The majority of people I interviewed, both individuals and in group settings, felt that access to education, water, and health services were all very limited, despite some marginal efforts by CBC programmes in the first two sectors. People all around the park recognised that the benefits they received were secondary to the risks they faced. 35

The exclusionary history of conservation in Tanzania, the current conflicts surrounding conservation, and people's perceived threats to their livelihoods and security because of conservation, problematise theories about migration towards national parks. These factors should give us pause regarding models that present a near universal conclusion of in-migration next to PAs. 36 Using universalising theories to address conservation problems may be compelling to conservationists, policy makers, and development donors, but the ethnographic, contextual evidence from Tarangire, and the lives of people living day-to-day with conservation reveal contradictory trends based on inhospitable conditions for in-migration. The examples around TNP provide specific places and situations in which social, political, and legal deterrents to in-migration exist. The complex reality of conservation-based relationships in real world situations is not unique to Tanzania, or east Africa. However, these case studies point to key socio-economic and political issues that conservation brings to the fore of people's lives in very real ways.

   Acknowledgement Top

This research was funded through a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship.


  1. This movement has been a combination of forced evictions from national parks, the imposition of other PA status onto village lands or critical resource use areas.
  2. GCAs are multi use (notably tourism-based hunting), human inhabited 'buffer zone' type PAs surrounding many Tanzanian national parks controlled by Wildlife Division.
  3. WMAs are discussed below. They are a new form (formed within last 10 years) of PA 'co-managed' by communities and the Wildlife Division; though two villages are attempting to pull out of the WMA.
  4. Tarangire is surrounded by Simanjiro GCA (east), Lolkisale GCA (northeast), and Mto wa Mbu GCA (north). Mkungunero Game Reserve is south of TNP. The Burunge WMA spans several villages to the west of the park.
  5. Tanzania's smallest administrative unit is a 'village' with a local government center, primary school, and sometimes other services. Many villages were created in the 1970s during Julius Nyerere's Villagisation programme, which involved the forced re-settlement of rural people into these distinct administrative units.
  6. Participatory risk mapping (PRM) methods following Smith et al. (2000) were conducted in both individual and group questionnaires.
  7. I conducted the majority of interviews in Swahili; interviews were also conducted in local languages such as Maa and Iraqw, and translated into either English or Swahili.
  8. Though the park was formally established in 1951, complete evictions did not occur until 1959 (Neumann 1998).
  9. Maasai pastoralism has been recognised by some researchers to be consistent with wildlife conservation (see Western 1982, 1994 for example from Amboseli, Kenya). However, this is not the dominant narrative used by conservation or development organisations or the state.
  10. People were to work through the newly formed village structure to contribute to the national economy and productivity, supporting the socialist programmes and policies of the newly independent state.
  11. Some villages have implemented, or are working on land use plans since my research concluded in 2007.
  12. Maasai have also been farming to increase livelihood and food security.
  13. Despite popular opinion, Maasai have relied on agricultural products for over 50 years (Galvin et al. 2002; Thompson & Homewood 2002; McCabe 2003; McCabe 2007; Leslie & McCabe 2008).
  14. N'gaisiri Mungai (pseudonyms or no names have been used for all interviewees).
  15. Tanzanian national parks, many which are in historic Maasai landscapes, are indicative of these non-cohesive goals. National parks in Tanzania have total human exclusion and are based on 'fortress conservation' models (Neuman 1998).
  16. Depending on who one asks in the region, sometimes these are viewed as synonymous.
  17. This is based on my dissertation research (2005-2007), McCabe pers. comm. These fears are not unwarranted; a recent (January 15, 2010) article in The Citizen (http://thecitizen.co.tz/newe.php?id=16882) discusses TNP expansion and dispossession of people from village lands.
  18. Land classifications of the area (village lands and a GCA) fall under different land categories, controls, and regulations. While land use and local rights may be protected or enforced by varying laws and regulations, there is no guarantee that those legal rights will be upheld (see Shivji & Kapinga 1998 for a discussion of pastoral rights in Ngorongoro, and Brockington 2002 for discussion of Maasai evictions from Mkomazi).
  19. Based on the Village Land Act, there are protections in place for livelihoods and customary use on village lands.
  20. However Sachedina 2008 reveals large 'benefits' in the form of compensation from private enterprises in both my study site and in neighbouring villages. However, transparency regarding the amount of funds received was limited, often with local elites maintaining tight control over that information and funding. Thus the perceived 'benefit' to local communities was perhaps much smaller than the actual funds raised by the villages.
  21. The premise of WMAs, as explained by village leadership, Wildlife Division officers, and AWF, was not only to devolve some control over resources back to local communities but also to foster ICDP programmes while promoting conservation goals.
  22. It re-assigns village lands into protect area status, falling under the ultimate control of the Division of Wildlife.
  23. While land is commonly allocated to individuals by village land committees, 'customary' land tenure and land use are recognised and followed by residents. Customary land practices are protected by the Village Land Act and the Land Act (URT 1999). People often spoke to me about lack of land to pass on to their children (in both literal and figurative senses).
  24. A spring once inside village lands is now inside the park boundary. Of the 36 household interviews, 35 mentioned water (lack of, distance to, cleanliness of) as one of the top 5 risks people faced by living in the area.
  25. Including the newly formed WMA co-management committee with representatives from the villages that are part of the Burunge WMA.
  26. Village leaders and residents alike expressed a desire to promote Mbugwe historical sites and cultural events in the village.
  27. See Scholte & De Groot (2010) for an introduction to 'agricultural frontiers' and other models of immigration to areas outside PAs.
  28. The Iraqw first arrived during British colonial tsetse fly eradication schemes, as hired labor. Historical practices of the Iraqw expansion into 'settler' communities from their homeland were carried out through this period. Migrants from colonial labor saw the lands 'unoccupied', though they were seasonally utilised by Barabaig and Fiome pastoralists.
  29. First brought to attention as an international concern by Marcus Borner's study of wildlife migration patterns in and out of TNP in 1985.
  30. See Sachedina 2008 for a discussion of other villages embroiled in boundary disputes with TNP.
  31. Ujamaa (brotherhood or 'famillyhood') refers to socialist-based policies set forth by Nyerere post independence.
  32. There is also a trend throughout Africa of rural-urban migration, rather than rural-rural migration (Gugler 2002), a phenomenon confirmed in the sentiments expressed by the many Iraqw youth interviewed who had been seeking jobs in nearby cities or towns when they could not acquire farms in Mwinkantsi.
  33. The non-Mbugwe residents of Sangaiwe contend with this daily.
  34. Full analysis of risks is beyond the scope of this paper, but is being prepared for another publication.
  35. PRM methods, as mentioned above, were used to ascertain severity and frequency of risks people faced related and unrelated to conservation (a full analysis of this data will be presented in forthcoming articles).
  36. Wittemyer et al.'s (2008) paper may be compelling to conservationists, policy makers, and development donors, especially towards action, which could occur on a global scale. Though statistical analysis supports their theories, it ignores place specific contexts. Additionally, Joppa et al. (2009) address what they see as statistical disparities in the Wittemyer et al. (2008) paper.

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