Northern Tanzania is home to the Hadzabe, one of the last remaining hunter-gatherer tribes on Earth. Known for shunning material possessions and social hierarchy, the Hadza roam as needed to find game, tubers and wild berries.
Hunter-gatherer societies understand that their survival depends on natural resources. The Hadza's deep reservoir of natural knowledge and light footprint on their land have enabled them to persist in a challenging environment.
Increasingly, however, agriculture is destroying scrub-forest habitat that sustains wildlife and the Hadza, threatening to displace the tribe from their traditional homeland.
Due to population pressures, farming and livestock-raising tribes are increasingly forced into competition with the Hadza over land and natural resources.
By analyzing satellite imagery, The Nature Conservancy identified a chain reaction on the ground. Agriculture encroaches mainly from the south, as the Sukuma people clear woodland brush to grow beans and maize. The Datoga pastoralists, driven northward, then graze livestock on semi-arid lands the Hadza rely on to find food.
Unless we act now to secure wildlife corridors and traditional land uses for pastoralists and hunter-gatherers, the vibrant Hadza culture will likely be squeezed out of existence.
In October 2011, the Hadza took the unusual step of asserting legal claim to their homeland. They received official title — recognized by the government of Tanzania — to 57,000 acres.
This precedent-setting designation represents years of work by the Ujaama Community Resource Team, with support from the Dorobo Fund and the Conservancy. Our engagement also helped UCRT facilitate the first-ever powwow of Hadza elders.
In 2012, we secured four more homeland designations and protected 90,000 additional acres for the Datoga tribe. Their designations assert that more than 80 percent of their lands will now be managed as grazing areas for livestock and wildlife.
Securing additional land for pastoral use helps both tribes, as the Datoga no longer need to move onto Hadza land to graze cattle.
With our partners, we also formed the Northern Tanzania Rangelands Initiative. This coalition aims to help multiple ethnic groups develop game-scout networks, conservation-farming programs, land and grazing management plans, increased tourism revenue, and carbon-offset projects that would sustainably fund all of these efforts.
We envision a northern Tanzania where the Hadza and neighboring tribes can use their lands and co-exist with wildlife as they have for centuries. We are pursuing three main strategies to create a resilient, sustainable Hadza homeland:
With your support, we can secure the Hadza homeland and ensure the survival of their vibrant culture. And by ultimately reconnecting ecosystems that extend northward to national conservation areas, we can revitalize wildlife populations.January 10, 2013